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Dexter Gordon

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 Jacquet also being in the sax section, Gordon did not get any solos. In 1943, he did get to stretch out on a recording session with Nat King Cole. Short stints with Lee Young, the Fletcher Henderson Orchestra, and Louis Armstrong's big band preceded his move to New York in December 1944 and becoming part of Billy Eckstine's Orchestra, trading off with Gene Ammons on Eckstine's recording of "Blowin' the Blues Away." Gordon recorded with Dizzy Gillespie ("Blue 'N' Boogie") and as a leader for Savoy before returning to Los Angeles in the summer of 1946. He was a major part of the Central Avenue scene, trading off with Wardell Gray and Teddy Edwards in many legendary tenor battles; studio recordings of "The Chase" and "The Duel" helped to document the atmosphere of the period.

After 1952, drug problems resulted in some jail time and periods of inactivity during the '50s (although Gordon did record two albums in 1955). By 1960, he was recovered and soon he was recording a consistently rewarding series of dates for Blue Note. Just when he was regaining his former popularity, in 1962 Gordon moved to Europe where he would stay until 1976. While on the continent, he was in peak form and Gordon's many SteepleChase recordings rank with the finest work of his career. Gordon did return to the U.S. on an occasional basis, recording in 1965, 1969-1970, and 1972, but he was to an extent forgotten in his native land. It was therefore a major surprise that his return in 1976 was treated as a major media event. A great deal of interest was suddenly shown in the living legend with long lines of people waiting at clubs in order to see him. Gordon was signed to Columbia and remained a popular figure until his gradually worsening health made him semi-active by the early '80s. His third comeback occurred when he was picked to star in the motion picture 'Round Midnight. Gordon's acting was quite realistic and touching. He was nominated for an Academy Award, four years before his death after a very full life. Most of Dexter Gordon's recordings for Savoy, Dial, Bethlehem, Dootone, Jazzland, Blue Note, SteepleChase, Black Lion, Prestige, Columbia, Who's Who, Chiaroscuro, and Elektra Musician are currently available. ~ Scott Yanow
full bio

Selected Discography

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Track List: Both Sides Of Midnight

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Track List: One Flight Up

Comments

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I listen to everyone, but I only transcribe Dexter because his sound and phrasing speaks to me. I hear him in head all day.
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flygybill
Phrasing, taste, and the fullest, most articulated tenor who ever lived. Bless Dexter Gordon!
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A true renaissance Man of Jazz....
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Dexter Gordon is a presence to be respected & required in anyone's collection & conversation about jazz or music. He also acted in Awakenings with Robin Williams some years ago. He has that timeless effort that brings ears & eyes to him like no one else can. A really beautiful person with a command of the horn(s). One of my personal faves is his Montreaux Summit solo work alongside Woody, Stan, & Billy Cobham (16 stars in all). Fantastic work throughout.
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matthew.bren n a n 2
great
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jebjas
Can't get much better than Dexter. Good stuff!
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IT'S IMPORTANT TO KEEP THE LEGACY OF JAZZ AND ITS GENRES ALIVE...
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One of my favorite albums-'Dadd y Plays Horn'- by one of my favorite (top-5) artists of all time. Dex was/is one of the 'true artists' of the past century_And well, just cool ya know, from the moment his mama put his feet to the floor…..LTD… . !
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Round midnight movie was based on Dexter. Worth seeing!!
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Ssax! Wow now I'm tingling in my bathing suit areas :-)
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once again blue at its best! mr,freddie hubard blow'in hard & smooth-& Dex long & tall blow'in just that way & the cast with him every one c-o-o-k-i-n! ! ! ! -
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Are you a grate singer. I just want to know
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I was lucky enough to see him several times in and around NYC from the Late `70's to `80's. Nobody had commented upon his tendency to hold his Sax out when people were applauding him, as if it were a Magic Saxophone which deserved the credit for the playing, not him.
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theeblackshe e p 7 2
patients and soul, the trill of whats next ....there is nothing like the old-school.. . . c l o s e ur eyes and let it take u ...
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debjf3701
ditto
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Open all the doors and windows...tu r n it up as LOUD as you can and let the world hear what its missing...ya gotta luv it!!!
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Whoa I love Kenny G.'s stuff but he blows Kenny out the water by a long shot... But he is amazing
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One of the Great
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dont read this because it actually works. u will be kissed by the love of your life on the nearest friday. tommorrow will be the best day of your life. but if you do not post this in two day you will die. now u have started dont stop. put this on atleast 5 songs in 143 minutes and when done press f6 and ur lovers name will appear on the screen
dont read this because it actually works. u will be kissed by the love of your life on the nearest friday. tommorrow will be the best day of your life.
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The JUICIEST ballads squoze lovingly from his tenor.
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jono793
I listen & I'm in another place from the first note. No one except DG can find that place or reach me there ….
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His BlueNote sides from the 60's are my favorite, especially on the ballads. Wonderful full tone.
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I love Eddie gladden on drums
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Dexter swings in a samba rhythm !! Wow :) x
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steelsmith8
First heard himin 1961 while in USMC. Black guys introduced him to me, been a fan ever since. No one else sounds like him as soon as you hear the first few notes you know it's Dex
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I had the honor of meeting DG at the Minneapolis airport in, I believe, 1977, just before Manhattan Symphonie was released. I cannot tell you how much it meant to me to host him that weekend. DG was obviously unlike anyone I had ever met and ever would. To be in his presence was such a spiritual experience. The concert at Uof M's Whole Coffeehous (Rufus Reid on bass and Eddie Gladden on drums) was remarkable, and the audience was delirious; really good to read the comments here. We know.
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Saw him twice on a two-night stand at the Keystone in SF. This was early 70's. A lesson in phrasing, subtlety, and taste.
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I wore out Homecoming and even learned some of his tunes and 'Round Midnight , Gingerbread Boy. Sad no one plays his tunes -
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eyeroad2000
a smokey room, and a fine scotch and the horn ...livin
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selaho37
Darn that dream, Dex owns it!!
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One thing that I always noted when he was done playing is that he'd hold out his Saxophone as if that deserved all the Credit, not him. As if he had an Enchanted Instrument. Then again, listening to him, perhaps he did!
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Probably the most important measure of a mans life is what people say about him when he is gone. It looks like Dexter Gordon had a good life and left a lot of friends saying nice things about him. DMB
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jimacwarren
Dex thanks for the art and science.Thir t y years ago I used his work to recruit dozens of young women to become jazz lvers and they are to this day.The music of love.DG till the end of time. mac
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0h Dexter you are so fine and dandy ! love ya, man
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Dex was just so cool.. I get more out of his music by watching clips on YouTube.. The body language just adds to the overall impression.. I'm an alto player, &sometimes when I get nervous or anxious or upset on stage, I think of Dex, & I start blowing cool! In deference to Yanow's left-field comment (wish he'd cut it out with those), I find his quoting is pretty amazing-- & fascinating- - We all do it to some degree, but he was a master at it!!
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milgorjon
As a young African-Amer i c a n female studying abroad in the late '60s I met Dexter Gordon in Copenhagen one summer at a performance and fell in love with his music, and him. He took a platonic interest in me..a poor fatherless kid...and encouraged my education (sometimes with unexpected and generous checks) and then attended both my college and law school graduations. Not only was he a fabulous, perhaps one of the best ever, sax players, but he was likewise an amazing human being. May he rest in
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paulapsotel
PaulaP...OMG I LOVE THIS GREAT MAN'S MUSIC, I WENT TO SEE AROUND MIDNIGHT AT A SPECIAL TIME IN MY LIFE!!!!VIC & ELEAZAR
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Dexter Gordon is why I love Jazz. Walked into a record store (remember those?) to buy my dad a Jazz CD. Had no idea what I wanted - I was maybe twelve. Go was playing on the store stereo. After asking: Who is this? I never stopped looking back. I love Dexter Gordon's melodies and freak outs - when he just goes spastic before settling in and blasting away again - man, so transcendent . And listen to my friend and hometown hero: Ian Hendrickson Smith, too!
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pnew119
Where is (one flight up?) Important piece of music,should be shared!!.
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PURE GENIUS!!! Absolutely timeless, can't get enough.
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Dexter hooked me on bop and I remain happily addicted decades later.
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There are more comments on this artist than any other! Thats encouraging for old jazz af's like myself! Dexter was a staple in jazz! I have more music by him than any other! Please everyone keep swingin it!
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I LOVE DEXTER, I USE TO SEE HIM AT THE JAZZ SHOWCASE IN CHICAGO
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Our Man in Paris one of the best Tenor Saxophone performances
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jazzbiker
To say, as is stated in the bio above, that he quoted "excessively " , is a totally subjective statement and to my thinking totally out of line. In my judgement Dexter's quotes are amazing -- every one of them.
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People ask me why I listen to jazz, and I tell them...becau s e I don't like people telling me what to do through my music. Especially if it aint what I want to hear...So you "throw ya hands up" "get down" and whatever they tell you to do...cause I aint doin it
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This cat gots more miles than Michelin and all without a retread. Personally I don't think the film "Round Midnight" did him or his music justice. Great talent.
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We met in Munich approximatel y 1970, Germany a Great friend, explained much about the horn and how important it was to to be able to make certin applications of the keys to the kingdom. I asked him a thousand question everytime we would hang out. The answers were always the same. I finely graduated to the next level on my horn. One of our great play a Past Master. I owe you a lot LTD my man.
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Nook933 From the first note I heard him blew, while at Bubba's in Miami, Florida, I fell in love with his style of handling the Tenor sax.
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dsbtree
After seeing the movie "Round Midnight" and seeing him at the Jazz Fest in Chicago I was hooked.
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