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Gordon, Dexter

Biography

Dexter Gordon (February 27, 1923 – April 25, 1990) was an American jazz tenor saxophonist and an Academy Award-nominated actor (Round Midnight, Warner Bros, 1986). He is regarded as one of the first and most important musicians to adapt the bebop musical language of people like Charlie Parker, Dizzy Gillespie, and Bud Powell to the tenor saxophone. His studio and live performance career were both extensive and multifaceted, spanning over 50 years in recorded jazz history. Gordon's height was 6 feet 6 inches (198 cm), so he was also known as "Long Tall Dexter" and "Sophisticated Giant". He played a Conn 10M 'Ladyface' tenor until it was stolen in a Paris airport in 1961. He then switched over to a Selmer Mark VI. His saxophone was fitted with an Otto Link metal mouthpiece, which can be seen in various photos. In 1985, Dexter Gordon was named a member and Officer of the French Order of Arts and Letters by the Ministry of Culture in France, and was nominated for an Academy Award in 1986. He died on April 25, 1990, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.




Recordings

Gordon, Dexter: Jazz At Highschool

This CD was recorded live by the Danish National Radio at a jazz clinic for music students at a high school in Sweden in 1967. The 50 minutes of music (five tunes) are being released here for the first time, and the sound quality (recorded by the National Danish Radio) is very good. The repertoire consists of three high-powered be-bop tunes – two of which Dexter recorded on BlueNote Records in the early 60’s - plus two tender ballads. As this live concert from 1967 clearly reveals, the ten years during which Dexter lived in Copenhagen (from the mid-60’s to the mid-70’s) probably comprise the strongest period in his career, where his technique, power and maturity reached their peak. The rhythm group Dexter chose for this session – one of the best in Europe, and possibly the world – was his favorite rhythm section at that time (when he performed regularly at the famous Jazzhus Montmartre), three men, led by the famous pianist Kenny Drew, who could match Dexter’s musical prowess and help boost him to the impressive artistic plateau heard on this recording.