Dexter Gordon: Complete Columbia - JazzWax

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December 15, 2011


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Ian Carey

I know this post is about Dexter, but let me just say that Woody Shaw on "Homecoming" is some of the most trumpet anybody ever played.


Thanks for this recommendation, Marc. And to you too, Ian. I'm a big fan of Woody Shaw, of Dexter anyway. I think Dex never ever played anything superficial, or did he?

My favorite (besides "A Swingin' Affair") is "Our Man In Paris". What he plays there at "A Night In Tunisia" is simply incredible:

All that sound, so big, so strong, and so relentlessly swinging behind the beat.

No one else on any instrument could handle such slow tempos like Dexter at the above "Laura".

Ahmed Bousanjani

What a pleasant surprise - I listened to Gotham City twice yesterday, and was greeted by the album cover at my daily visit to Jazzwax.

All respect to Dex, but as Ian points out, Woody Shaw is amazing. And the presence of George Benson is ... interesting.


Allen Lowe

the problem is that Dexter, a fine player, was never in the first rank of saxophonists; his solos were always competent but rather routine, and late in life one can tell that he's perpetually stoned. This is a clear instance of image triumphing over substance.

Doug Zielke

It's my understanding that Maxine Gordon is writing a biography on Dexter. I hope this is true. Fans of "LTD" are anxiously awaiting it.

Sal Gatrione

Have to agree with Allen - in much of Dexter's Steeplechase output he is usually nothing BUT superficial. Only occasionally is there a flash of innovation.


The little known 'Bouncin' with Dex' has always been one of my favorite albums. He's bursting with ideas, his sound and the recording quality are first rate. He was at the top of his game!


To everyone with negative comments, check these out:

Red Sullivan

To Alan Lowe and Sal Gatrione, above: please leave the room.
(I must say, I dote very particularly on many of the SteepleChase LPs).
(And, as for this idea of "a flash of innovation": I can't think of a more redundant criteria. Quite a meaningless thought you've articulated).
Jeeeeeeeeeeeeeshhh, you! What awful squares...

Red Sullivan

And, further, to Allen Lowe: Dexter IS THE FRONT RANK SAXOPHONE. It's him. For influence, he's the most profound (and I have the personal conviction that Coltrane and Rollins are his lessers. That's my own contention).


Red, thanks; you've taken the words right of my mouth.

The topic wasn't Dexter's IMHO overall great and mostly 'live' recordings for Steeplechase anyway, with the likes of Tete Montoliu, Niels-Henning Ørsted Pedersen, Barry Harris, or Arthur Taylor.

Following Marc's recommendations, and since I'm a die-hard vinylist, I have ordered three of the above mentioned of LTD's CBS LP's (!) from my favorite seller:

"Manhattan Symphonie", "Sophisticated Giant", and "Homecoming".

Though I don't think that the Colossus & Trane are "his lessers", Dexter rules.

He is a genuine stylist, coming from Lester Young, Ben Webster & Don Byas, mixed with Bird's phraseology.

His style was always "cool bop" to me, because he blows so relaxed, so laid back, that it tears me apart when he is playing together with other horns.

It's always great fun to listen to him, because he has humor too. All those quotes, those choices of titles like "Cheese Cake" or "Soy Califa", "Dexter Rides Again", "Dextrose" etc. -- Big smile here.

The very first video alone, posted by "desax", well, *that* is what I would call Grandezza. -- He *was* a great man, and he was one of his kind; and I'm very sad that I have never seen & heard him 'live'.

Long live long "Long Tall" Dexter Gordon!

Omar Ridder

Well, Red Sullivan and Brew certainly squash the idea that jazz fans are open minded. If someone doesn't agree with you, shouting louder probably won't change their mind.

Your opinion is just that: your opinion. Is it so hard to let others have theirs?


No one played like Dex.

Red Sullivan

...well, I'd be genuinely curious to see who Allen Lowe would list in "the front rank of saxophonists" if not Dexter. That's all I'm saying (although I am saying it highly rhetoricaly).
(PS.: I've never had an "open mind" when it comes to Dexter, nor should I).

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  • Marc Myers writes regularly for The Wall Street Journal and is author of "Anatomy of a Song" (Grove) and "Why Jazz Happened." Founded in 2007, JazzWax is a two-time winner of the Jazz Journalists Association's best blog award.

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