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The Classic Blue Note Recordings

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Album Review

A master of the tenor sax in the small-group bop setting, Dexter Gordon's marvelous tone, elegant lead lines, and deliberate behind-the-beat phrasing made him an obvious influence on John Coltrane and Sonny Rollins, among others, and although his body of work is much lauded, he still manages to be somehow underappreciated in the pantheon of great tenor sax players. Beset with drug and other personal problems throughout his career, Gordon had several "comebacks," but none more striking than his 1961 to 1965 sojourn with Blue Note Records, a period that produced Gordon's best work. Gordon released nine albums for the label in the early '60s, and this two-disc, 18-track compilation takes cuts from such stellar LPs as Clubhouse, Our Man in Paris, One Flight Up, and Go! to make a nice overview of the Blue Note years. The consistency on display here is startling, and if Gordon wasn't as openly exploratory as Coltrane or Rollins, he didn't really need to be. He knew the pocket and he knew when to move it. Barring purchasing all of Gordon's Blue Note albums individually (which isn't currently possible — Blue Note really should reissue all of them), picking up this set is probably the next best thing.


Born: February 27, 1923 in Los Angeles, CA

Genre: Jazz

Years Active: '40s, '50s, '60s, '70s, '80s

Dexter Gordon had such a colorful and eventful life (with three separate comebacks) that his story would make a great Hollywood movie. The top tenor saxophonist to emerge during the bop era and possessor of his own distinctive sound, Gordon sometimes was long-winded and quoted excessively from other songs, but he created a large body of superior work and could battle nearly anyone successfully at a jam session. His first important gig was with Lionel Hampton (1940-1943) although, due to Illinois...
Full Bio