The Complete Prestige Recordings

Dexter Gordon

I ordered this for myself this morning, call it is a Christmas present to myself. Yes, I know. I’m spoiled. I came across the article below, from Slate, last night and was driven to action. I’ve already got the Complete Blue Note Sessions, which is a massive and gorgeous body of work. I’d discovered one of the discs, “Go,” as a sophomore in college, and was hooked. Go has a lot of upbeat stuff, breakneck, even, on the title tune. It is true exhilirating. What lay ahead in the other discs, that I bought one by one, though, was the real source of my addiction: Dexter’s ballads. There may be a small universe of sax players who have better chops — very small. But nobody can set a mood better than Dex. Nobody quotes better in the middle of piece, which is something Dexter brings off with such playfull nonchalance that the effect of pleasant suprise, indeed wonderment, never wears off. My friend Eric, in Tokyo, thinks Dexter is cheezy. Granted some of his “comeback mode” recordings in the ’80s were off par and even woozy, but listen to Dexter in his prime, close your eyes, ride with him, and you’ll never put him away.
“Dexter Gordon was a pioneer, the tenor saxophonist who combined the sonorous cadences of Coleman Hawkins, the fleet lyricism of LesterYoung, and the harmonic acrobatics of Charlie Parker. Every tenor giant in his wake—Coltrane and Sonny Rollins, especially—followed the path he carved. Yet 14 years after his death at age 67, Long Tall Dexter is nearly forgotten. He’s best known for his starring turn in the film Round Midnight, where his acting was stellar but his playingso-so (he wasn’t well during the shoot). So, this 11-CD box-set is more than welcome. Dexter could blow chorus after chorus without repetition. He first drew fame for his tenor duels, which he nearly always won, but sustained the applause for his way with ballads: his molasses tone and breezy phrasings, but more still his insistent focus on the form and romance of the song.” Copyright Slate 2004

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