Friday, February 01, 2013

Dexter Gordon - NYC Jazz Record

Dexter Gordon
Satin Doll - Live in Stockholm

In June of 1967, Dexter Gordon was 44 years old. He
had been steadily blasting east from Los Angeles to
New York before hopping the Atlantic in 1962.
Copenhagen became his home base for the remainder
of the ‘60s and much of the ‘70s, with the Montmartre
Jazzhus becoming his regular office. 15 years ago Blue
Note Records unearthed recordings of Gordon backed
by pianist Kenny Drew, bassist Bo Stief and drummer
Art Taylor. This newest collection hails from that same
summer engagement, pitting Gordon against Taylor’s
popping snare for three epic battles while Kenny Drew
rows the boat for a Gordon ballad standby.

The album opens with the swinging title track,
finding Gordon working the full range of his horn in
honks and hoots as Taylor dances boisterously around
his phrases. In the liner notes, Stief speaks of his
nervousness on the gig. Only 20 and surrounded by
legends, it was understandable but none of that
apprehension is heard on “It’s You or No One”, as he
takes an extended, brisk quarter-note solo. Gordon is
especially intense, locked in with Taylor. “Darn That
Dream” gets a flowery accompaniment from Drew that
allows Gordon to stretch out, Taylor sticking to brushes
as Drew digs into his own tasteful moment in the
spotlight. “Billie’s Bounce” closes out the set with a
playful spoken intro from Gordon before the band
launches into a slightly reworked spin on Charlie
Parker’s melody. Each member gets plenty of room to
open up as Taylor closes out the solos, trading 12-bar
intervals before seemingly driving the drum kit
straight through the floor.

The playing is delightfully fierce. Gordon and
Taylor give it everything they’ve got on the bandstand,
with “It’s You or No One” and “Billie’s Bounce”
combining for a running time of over 35 minutes. How
many more of these recordings lie in the vault? And
how soon can we hear them?

Dexter Gordon @ NYC Jazz Record

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