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Jazz - Released January 1, 2013 | Blue Note

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions The Qobuz Ideal Discography - Hi-Res Audio
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Jazz - Released January 1, 2013 | Blue Note (BLU)

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Jazz - Released January 1, 1961 | CM BLUE NOTE (A92)

Hi-Res Distinctions The Qobuz Ideal Discography
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Jazz - Released January 1, 1961 | CM BLUE NOTE (A92)

Hi-Res Distinctions The Qobuz Ideal Discography
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Jazz - Released August 27, 2013 | Bethlehem Records

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During a period of Dexter Gordon's (tenor sax) life -- when he was deep in the throws of chronic drug addiction -- the artist was miraculously able to reignite his career during the latter part of 1955. After several years of being out of the spotlight, Gordon resurfaced on the Big Apple-based indie Bethlehem imprint with the half-dozen sides that comprise Daddy Plays the Horn (1956). Joining him as key constituents of the credited Dexter Gordon Quartet are Kenny Drew (piano), Leroy Vinnegar (bass), and Larry Marable (drums). While the support team provides Gordon top-notch contributions throughout, it is unquestionably Drew who offers the most in terms of active interaction and his prominence can not be overstated. Nowhere is that as noticeable as the good-natured interaction heard on the disc's opener, the Gordon-penned title composition "Daddy Plays the Horn." In fact it could be argued that Drew enhances the tenor to the point of practically being a co-leader. The update of Charlie "Bird" Parker's bop standard "Confirmation" is taken at a steady mid-tempo pace, allowing plenty of room for the participants to have their say and not get in the way of the melody. Gordon seems considerably more relaxed and comfortable as he spreads line upon line of inspired improvisation. Drew is once again a real treat to hear briefly taking charge of the rhythm section. The pair of ballads on Daddy Plays the Horn are nothing short of stellar and stand as simple, emotive expressions unto themselves. "Darn That Dream" embraces the warmth of Gordon's tenor as his sensual phrasing leaves just enough space for Drew to sonically bridge the gap with his own unhurried and stylish chords. The generically monikered "Number Four" is anything but ordinary. The Gordon original jumps right from the opening and the ensemble lets loose with equally solid licks beneath his cool tone. Drew gets in the driver's seat missing nary a measure to reveal what could easily be his most tasteful contributions to date. The same can be said of bassist Vinnegar, who is briefly spotlighted on an efficient (if not somewhat sparse) solo. "Autumn in New York" -- the album's other essential ballad -- is proof that despite Gordon's addiction, he had retained his singular and precious sense of lyricism. Indeed, the Great American Songbook entry has rarely been permeated in such a meaningful way. The seamless transitions between Gordon and Drew are further evidence of their undeniable bond. Saving what may be the best example of the gathered instrumentalists flexing their respective be-bop muscle, "You Can Depend on Me" rounds out the platter with a bang. Each bandmember gets a final opportunity to shine -- which they individually take full advantage of. In 2005, the Shout! Factory label reissued Daddy Plays the Horn, placing the six selections in the correct running order, and the digital remastering by Randy Perry has the classic sounding better than ever. © Lindsay Planer /TiVo
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Jazz - Released January 1, 2006 | Blue Note Records

Distinctions The Qobuz Ideal Discography
Dexter Gordon was on a roll in 1962 when he recorded A Swingin' Affair. Two days earlier he and this same quartet recorded his classic album Go!; the band included pianist Sonny Clark, bassist Butch Warren, and drummer Billy Higgins. Gordon wrote two of the set's six tunes, the first of which, the Afro-Cuban-flavored "Soy Califa," is a burner. Higgins' drumming double-times the band as Gordon lays out the melody -- even his solo doesn't stray far from it and he returns to it repetitively. Clark vamps with beautiful minor-key chords that he then adds to his own solo, moving all around the lyric with his right hand. And Higgins and Warren are truly wonderful on this one. There are also three standards here. Gordon was always a master of them because his own approach to improvisation was essentially one of melodic invention. "Don't Explain" is ushered in by Clark stating the changes; Gordon's low and slow playing is romantic and sensual. On "You Stepped Out of a Dream," Gordon and Clark take the melody and invert it in the bridge; they turn it into a kind of groove as Higgins plays Latin-tinged rhythms throughout. Warren's "The Backbone" is a hard bop groover with a bossa nova flavor, as he and Gordon twin on the tune's head before Dex moves off into his solo. It's easily the best thing here. This is a hot hard bop band, playing a program that's relaxed and mostly upbeat; they even manage to stretch a bit. The Rudy Van Gelder Edition features fine sound but no bonus material. © Thom Jurek /TiVo
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Jazz - Released January 1, 2013 | Blue Note (BLU)

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Jazz - Released January 1, 1961 | CM BLUE NOTE (A92)

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Jazz - Released January 1, 1991 | Blue Note Records

Along with Gene Ammons and Stanley Turrentine, Dexter Gordon was one of the top ballad players of the '60s. Having already made his name in the bebop era and as an expatriate in Europe, Gordon returned to the States to record a series of fine Blue Note discs during the first half of the decade. This edition of the label's Ballads series features Gordon at his peak and in the company of some of hard bop's best players. Whether melding nicely with trumpeter Donald Byrd from a Paris date in 1964 ("Darn That Dream") or locking in with the stellar rhythm section of Sonny Clark, Butch Warren, and Billy Higgins ("Don't Explain"), Gordon delivers his almost sleepy and smoke-filled solos with regal grace. The same can also be said of the rest of this incredible program, including a latter-day live cut from 1978. A perfect set for those in need of a provocative after-hours session in front of the stereo. © Stephen Cook /TiVo
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Jazz - Released January 1, 1965 | CM BLUE NOTE (A92)

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Jazz - Released January 1, 1962 | CM BLUE NOTE (A92)

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Dexter Gordon was on a roll in 1962 when he recorded A Swingin' Affair. Two days earlier he and this same quartet recorded his classic album Go!; the band included pianist Sonny Clark, bassist Butch Warren, and drummer Billy Higgins. Gordon wrote two of the set's six tunes, the first of which, the Afro-Cuban-flavored "Soy Califa," is a burner. Higgins' drumming double-times the band as Gordon lays out the melody -- even his solo doesn't stray far from it and he returns to it repetitively. Clark vamps with beautiful minor-key chords that he then adds to his own solo, moving all around the lyric with his right hand. And Higgins and Warren are truly wonderful on this one. There are also three standards here. Gordon was always a master of them because his own approach to improvisation was essentially one of melodic invention. "Don't Explain" is ushered in by Clark stating the changes; Gordon's low and slow playing is romantic and sensual. On "You Stepped Out of a Dream," Gordon and Clark take the melody and invert it in the bridge; they turn it into a kind of groove as Higgins plays Latin-tinged rhythms throughout. Warren's "The Backbone" is a hard bop groover with a bossa nova flavor, as he and Gordon twin on the tune's head before Dex moves off into his solo. It's easily the best thing here. This is a hot hard bop band, playing a program that's relaxed and mostly upbeat; they even manage to stretch a bit. The Rudy Van Gelder Edition features fine sound but no bonus material. © Thom Jurek /TiVo
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Jazz - Released January 1, 1987 | Blue Note Records

Dexter Gordon's mid-'60s period living in Europe also meant coming back to the U.S. for the occasional recording session. His teaming with Bobby Hutcherson was intriguing in that the vibraphonist was marking his territory as a maverick and challenging improviser. Here the two principals prove compatible in that they have a shared sense of how to create sheer beauty in a post-bop world. Add the brilliant Barry Harris to this mix, and that world is fortunate enough to hear these grand masters at their creative peak, stoked by equally extraordinary sidemen like bassist Bob Cranshaw and drummer Billy Higgins, all on loan from Lee Morgan's hitmaking combo. The subtle manner in which Gordon plays melodies or caresses the most recognizable standard has always superseded his ability to ramble through rough-and-tumble bebop. It's hard to resist how Gordon massages the light and sweet bossa nova "Manha de Carnaval" hand in hand with Hutcherson, the heartfelt way "Who Can I Turn To?" or "Everybody's Somebody's Fool" is turned into a personalized statement, or how the co-leaders take Frank Foster's Count Basie staple, "Shiny Stockings," beyond a classic and into immortal territory. Where Gordon and Hutcherson's true strength lies is in their ability to listen and balance their sound into a unified whole beyond any other tenor sax-vibraphone combination you might care to name, unless it's Hutch's partnership in the ensuing years with Harold Land. Picking up on a Sonny Rollins idea, "Heartaches" is a loping cowboy-type swinger with some lustrous comping from Hutcherson and Harris, while the light, cat-prancing "Le Coiffeur" is the highlight among highlights, a stealth calypso with Gordon's deftly rendered staccato notation. One has to listen closer to the pianist on this date, as he buoys the others without demanding equal space, but he is just as reverberant. While this is not Gordon's ultimate hard bop date, it is reflective of his cooling out in Europe, adopting a tonal emphasis more under the surface than in your face. It's not essential, but quite enjoyable, and does mark a turning point in his illustrious career. [The CD version contains two bonus tracks, including the Onzy Matthews composition "Very Saxily Yours" with a melody very similar to "Shiny Stockings," Hutcherson alone during a second chorus, and a classy quarter-to-eighth note solo by Gordon. Ben Tucker's "Flick of a Trick" is added on, an 11-minute groove blues that lets Harris cut loose, digging in after-hours style.] © Michael G. Nastos /TiVo
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Jazz - Released January 1, 1964 | CM BLUE NOTE (A92)

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Jazz - Released January 1, 1979 | CM BLUE NOTE (A92)

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Jazz - Released January 1, 1979 | CM BLUE NOTE (A92)

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Go!

Jazz - Released January 1, 1999 | Blue Note Records

From the first moments when Dexter Gordon sails into the opening song full of brightness and confidence, it is obvious that Go is going to be one of those albums where everything just seems to come together magically. A stellar quartet including the stylish pianist Sonny Clark, the agile drummer Billy Higgins, and the solid yet flexible bassist Butch Warren are absolutely crucial in making this album work, but it is still Gordon who shines. Whether he is dropping quotes into "Three O'Clock in the Morning" or running around with spritely bop phrases in "Cheese Cake," the album pops and crackles with energy and exuberance. Beautiful ballads like "I Guess I'll Hang My Tears Out to Dry" metamorphosize that energy into emotion and passion, but you can still see it there nonetheless. Gordon had many high points in his five decade-long career, but this is certainly the peak of it all. © Stacia Proefrock /TiVo
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Jazz - Released January 1, 1987 | Fantasy Records

Dexter Gordon's set at the 1970 Montreux Jazz Festival is typically exciting with long tenor solos, fine backup (from pianist Junior Mance, bassist Martin Rivera and drummer Oliver Jackson) and a well-rounded repertoire: Gordon's "Fried Bananas," "Sophisticated Lady," Thelonious Monk's "Rhythm-A-Ning," an explorative "Body and Soul," "Blue Monk" and "The Panther." This excellent CD serves as a fine all-around introduction to the music of the great tenor-saxophonist. © Scott Yanow /TiVo
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Jazz - Released April 21, 1969 | MPS

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Unlike many other American expatriates living in Europe, tenor saxophonist Dexter Gordon always managed to play and record with the top musicians while overseas. This excellent sextet session (with trombonist Slide Hampton, trumpeter Dizzy Reece, pianist Kenny Drew, bassist Niels Pedersen and drummer Art Taylor) finds him exploring three Slide Hampton compositions and a trio of standard ballads. The other soloists are fine but Gordon easily dominates the set, playing his brand of hard-driving bop. © Scott Yanow /TiVo
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Jazz - Released January 1, 2004 | Fantasy Records

While it's unquestionably true that saxophonist Dexter Gordon is best known for his Blue Note sides made between 1960 and 1965, it is on his Prestige recordings, the vast majority of which were taped between 1969 and 1973, where the full depth and breadth of his gift and contribution are documented. What's more, this box finally sets the historical and chronological record straight as many of Gordon's records were assembled from various sessions. The Complete Prestige Recordings consists of 11 CDs, charting Gordon's rise as a soloist in 1950 as part of the With Wardell Gray memorial album, and his reemergence after a period of drug addiction and imprisonment in 1960 with the album Resurgence. The story drops again as Gordon went on to record his seminal Blue Note sessions and picks up again with Booker Ervin, Jaki Byard, Reggie Workman and Alan Dawson on the electrifying Setting the Pace five years later. Gordon moved to Europe following this date for an extended sojourn there, and isn't heard from again until 1969's Tower of Power and More Power, two albums' worth of material recorded while visiting New York, with Barry Harris, Albert "Tootie" Heath, James Moody and Buster Williams. From these sessions, there are six previously unissued takes of the material in addition to the albums themselves. From 1969 until '73 Gordon's is featured in all sorts of settings, from quartets with Junior Mance, Martin Rivera and Oliver Jackson, as well as with Larry Ridley, Tommy Flanagan and Alan Dawson, to a quintet co-led with Gene Ammons that starred a young Steve McCall on drums! There is also the fine Jumpin' Blues session with Wynton Kelly, Sam Jones and Roy Brooks, as well as a gorgeous quintet with Freddie Hubbard, Cedar Walton, Billy Higgins and Buster Williams that was issued first as Tangerine and then as Generation. The Montreux performances are included here as well. From the quartets with Hampton Hawes, Kenny Clarke and Bob Cranshaw, to the steaming Gene Ammons and friends jam at Montreux with that trio, plus Ammons, Nat and Cannonball Adderley and Kenny Nash in addition to Dex. There are no less than eight unreleased performances from these various outings making for a wealth of previously unavailable Gordon in this box. What it adds up to is one of jazz music's most compelling and labyrinthine stories. One of an expatriate jazzman whose style was moving ever more expressionistically into new expansive harmonic and lyric conceptions informed by a tough, swaggering swinging application of the blues. The sound is phenomenal, the track by track documentation is a bit idiosyncratic in description but is nonetheless complete. There are also many fine and rare photographs, and the liner essay by Ted Panken is both exhaustive and authoritative. This set is long overdue and, combined with the Blue Note box, this gives for all practical and intent purposes, the definitive portrait of Gordon. © Thom Jurek /TiVo
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Jazz - Released January 1, 2004 | Blue Note Records

Most of these nine tunes were recorded between 1962 and 1965, with one cut, the final one, taken from a very late date in 1985 with John McLaughlin, Herbie Hancock, Billy Higgins, and Pierre Michelot. Over the course of his career in jazz, Dexter Gordon became one of its greatest balladeers. These tunes, all standards save one original, showcase him in wonderfully intimate settings, allowing his true singing voice on the horn to shine through and express complex emotions through fairly simple arrangements. "Serenade in Blue" opens the set, and Gordon croons to Sir Charles Thompson's light-fingered chords and ostinati. On "Stairway to the Stars," with Bud Powell, Kenny Clarke, and Michelot, Gordon digs into the melody and paints it with deep, resonant colors. The lone Gordon composition, "Jodi," with Freddie Hubbard, Bob Cranshaw, and Billy Higgins, is full of Dex's trademark tenderness and gentleness. This is a beautifully sequenced selection, one that plays to the saxophonist's greatest strength. © Thom Jurek /TiVo