Alon Marcus

Dexter Gordon

388 posts in this topic

I've gushed on Dex in this thread, but I will defend the turd in the punchbowl. The person who started this thread said "Please write your opinions about him", not "please praise him". I think that the opinion expressed (although I don't share it in this case) is a common one and therefore valid. Just my opinion, it's kind of culturally up to the group if this is cool or not, but had I started this thread, I would have welcomed all opinions flattering and otherwise. Maybe the original poster can reply and let us know how they feel about it.

Regarding the "does anyone else hear the influence of drug use in his playing?". My answer is no, however, stylistically, he plays very laid back. Technically, behind the beat a little bit. I don't know what to attribute this too, maybe drug use, but I think not because he was very consistent in it, at least on the Blue Note sessions. He seemed to be a very easy going personality (for whatever reason) and his playing matches that. I think it's freaking cool, but if you're wanting Chris Potter, this aint it.

I was playing with a trio in a workshop lead by David Freissen once and took the head on Black Orpheaus. When we stopped David said, "it seemed like Troy was wanting to play behind the beat a little and (the other two) were rushing" I had transcribed Dex's phrasing on that and listenned to his version a million times and was tickled that it came through in my playing.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The effect of drug use.....I mean, how can you tell? How did he sound without drugs?

There was some quote once, don't remember who from where guy A says to guy B:

"How can you play high?" and to which guy B responded

"Easy, I practice high."

Edited by TroyK

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I recently acquired a CD of Dexter's early recordings on Savoy, and I was amazed at how fully formed his style was circa 1946, and how excellent these recordings are. So if, like me, you are a big fan of his Blue Note, Prestige, and Steeplechase recordings, don't ignore his early works.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I hear the effects of drug use all over his playing - I see his behind-the-beat phrasing as a kind of self-compensation, adjusting to the limitations (and I do see them as limitations) and confusions enforced by his drug use - and as I matter of fact I find most of his playing, largely due to this, as dull and uninspired - though there are, as I mentioned, nice spurts of energy and he gets a nice sound out of the horn.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I did meet and interview him once, around 1979, and he was exactly like his playing - pause, phrase, pause phrase, slow phrase, drawl, sudden burst and than a looooong rest...nice guy, though - just a boring saxophonist -

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I am responding, KH , to specific questions about my opinion - and I am giving substance to that opinion - so stop trolling on my posts - ironic isn't it?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

and, as has already been pointed out, per the original question here: "Please write your opinions about him" - didn't know that this was restricted to opinions that coincided with your opinion - I will, however, remember that in the future - must be buried in the Organnissimo rule book -

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

allan-i find his playing sort of "woozy" sounding. perhaps i read this somewhere. but i guess i see what you mean. he could sound medicated.

i don't like his sound too much but i can see why so many do. i do like "our man in paris" a lot and i guess troyk is right-his sound is harder on this one and i respond to it.

but i always thought gordon was considered quick-witted and clever and this is shown through his quoting of other songs. i find it a bit smarmy but wasn't he the master of this and wouldn't this be a sign of a clear mind?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I did meet and interview him once, around 1979, and he was exactly like his playing - pause, phrase, pause phrase, slow phrase, drawl, sudden burst and than a looooong rest...nice guy, though - just a boring saxophonist -

I completely disagree with this assessment of his playing, but clearly you have a basis for your opinion. I can't imagine why anyone would not want you to post it here in a discussion on our collective opinons of Dexter Gordon.

I'm a little confused by the rules of decorum here too.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

AK: well, maybe yes, maybe no - sometimes I see it as a fall-back gimmick, as an interjection based on formula and habit - and you are absolutely right, he does seem more alert than usual on Our Man In paris -

and thanks, Troyk -

Edited by AllenLowe

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Getting back to the drug thing.....you can't say that drugs do nothing but pose limitations on jazz musicians. Just look at Bird. Would he have changed the world if it wasn't for his smack habit? And weren't Coltrane's latter day excursions heavily influenced by the LSD he was taking with Alice? Who knows. And personally, I've seen quite a few big name jazz musicians (although mostly younger ones) who I'm almost 100% positive were on coke. Never hurt the performance that much, either.

I'm not saying that Dexter's life wasn't impeded in any way by drugs.....we all know his story. But I just can't comprehend listening to Dex and thinking to myself "wow, I can only imagine how much better he'd be if he weren't on drugs right now". If you think he's not a good player, fine. But I still can't understand how one can "hear the drugs" in his music. I ask again, what did he sound like sober?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

kh1958, come on. what's up? no need to get on someone for posting their valid opinion.

he isn't trolling. he is giving his assessment of gordon's playing.

he is entitled to say whatever he wants and wouldn't you agree the thread is more interesting when peoples opinions vary?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Nothing on records with Dex compares to Dex live in "Jazzhus Montmartre", where I've heard him

at least 200 times, with either Kenny Drew or Tete Monteliu on piano, always NHOP on bass, and

either Alex Riel, Art Taylor or Tootie Heath on drums.

How wonderfully civilized Copenhagen is.

He was also a very witty announcer of the tunes and bandmembers.

Along with his playing I love to hear him talk.

I could tell many stories about Dex or "Ben Gordonsen from Valby" as he sometimes

announced himself as (Valby is a suburb in Copenhagen, where he had a little house).

Oh if you have the time, please do! We'd love to hear more. :)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

just a question - does anybody else seem to notice, in his playing, the effect of drug use? I hear it everywhere

I hear it too.

But, to put it better, I really don't know if what I hear was the product of his addiction or of his alcoholism.

By the way, DEX is the only musician that have SEEN in concert but no HEARD.

He was (in the middle of the afternoon) to drank to play. He was sitting on a chair during the entire performance and didn't blow a single note (it was around 1975 or something like that).

Aniway I like some of his records, particularly "Our Man In Paris", "Doin'Allright" and "Go" (in this order).

Edited by P.L.M

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

But I still can't understand how one can "hear the drugs" in his music.

I'm pretty sure I hear roast beef on Tanya.

He's been known to do fried bananas too.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I'm a little confused by the rules of decorum here too.

State your opinion and defend it if you wish; about the only "rule." Why some people take a "my opinion or the highway" approach is beyond me.

Allen, I do hear what you describe from your interveiew with LTD in his playing and I think your description is spot on and an interesting characterization. For me, however, what you describe is what I love about his playing--a little stop time here, behind the beat there, and then, all of a sudden, a rush forward. Chemically-induced or not, I love the technique (or symptom, depending on your opinon!).

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I hear the effects of drug use all over his playing - I see his behind-the-beat phrasing as a kind of self-compensation, adjusting to the limitations (and I do see them as limitations) and confusions enforced by his drug use - and as I matter of fact I find most of his playing, largely due to this, as dull and uninspired - though there are, as I mentioned, nice spurts of energy and he gets a nice sound out of the horn.

I see the Forer effect all over your post.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Why is Dex being singled out for his addiction(s)? Other then Cliff Brown, all the greats were junkies.

Edited by take5

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

"The Forer Effect, identified by psychologist B.R. Forer in experiments which his undergraduate students in 1948, happens when someone accepts some general or vague description of their personality as being unique to them, even though the exact same description would apply equally well (or equally badly) to everyone."

hmmmm...

now, as for drug use and playing, some of my favorite musicians have been junkies, as we all know, from Bird to Bloomfield. Sometimes drug use can have a positive effect (recently reading some articles about the Beatles's comments on LSD and some of their later recordings) - in Dexter's case I don't like the effects, however - I think whatever he was taking forced him to reduce his playing to certain basic elements that I, personally, do not find interesting. Clearly resonable and open minded people (as well as KH 1958) can disagree here (sorry - could not resist cheap, nasty, rhetorical shot - that's the Fuehrer Effect)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

all the greats?

some of them - but nowhere near all - and are all the greats dead?

lordy lordy

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Well - this thread certainly turned "interesting".

I've always liked Dexter's albums, especially the ones on Blue Note.

I also got to hear (not just see) him live several times.

On those occasions both he & his playing were quite engaging.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Other then Cliff Brown, all the greats were junkies.

God bless Brownie. What an artful master....but I digress.

Oddly Brownie and Dex have a similar effect on me, even though their playing is almost opposite. Whenever I pull one or the other of them off my shelf after not having listened in a while, it usually kicks off an obsession that involves listening to the whole catalogue. I attribute this to style and expression.

I know that Dex had problems with drugs and alcohol, tragic problems. I don't attribute what I hear on his recordings as impared probably because they are just so damned consistent. He sounds like he sounds. At least on the recordings I know. So, it's convincing that it is what he is trying to play and I dig it. Same with Clifford Brown in a totally different way, whether he is playing slow or fast every note is exactly where he put it with exactly the accent that he was feeling, no doubt, no mechanical arpeggios while waiting for the next idea to come, no sheets of sound. I think both people played with tremendous conviction and I feel like expression of what was inside of them.

There are players who I feel like I'm hearing the effects of drugs on their playing because a session will show up where they are playing below their capabilities as set on other recordings. Of course, everyone's entitled to a bad day, but we do tell ourselves stories.

With respect to Dex, I have a tenor playing friend, who's playing I like, who HATES Dexter Gordon's tone. Won't even discuss it with me and he and I generally have pretty similar taste. I think that the fact that people tend to come down strongly on one side or the other is attributable to a unique style. Stand out as an individual and be prepared to be loved and hated. But that's art, right?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Other then Cliff Brown, all the greats were junkies.

God bless Brownie. What an artful master....but I digress.

Oddly Brownie and Dex have a similar effect on me, even though their playing is almost opposite. Whenever I pull one or the other of them off my shelf after not having listened in a while, it usually kicks off an obsession that involves listening to the whole catalogue. I attribute this to style and expression.

I know that Dex had problems with drugs and alcohol, tragic problems. I don't attribute what I hear on his recordings as impared probably because they are just so damned consistent. He sounds like he sounds. At least on the recordings I know. So, it's convincing that it is what he is trying to play and I dig it. Same with Clifford Brown in a totally different way, whether he is playing slow or fast every note is exactly where he put it with exactly the accent that he was feeling, no doubt, no mechanical arpeggios while waiting for the next idea to come, no sheets of sound. I think both people played with tremendous conviction and I feel like expression of what was inside of them.

There are players who I feel like I'm hearing the effects of drugs on their playing because a session will show up where they are playing below their capabilities as set on other recordings. Of course, everyone's entitled to a bad day, but we do tell ourselves stories.

With respect to Dex, I have a tenor playing friend, who's playing I like, who HATES Dexter Gordon's tone. Won't even discuss it with me and he and I generally have pretty similar taste. I think that the fact that people tend to come down strongly on one side or the other is attributable to a unique style. Stand out as an individual and be prepared to be loved and hated. But that's art, right?

....right you are!!! Actually, that's life!!!

Edited by sheldonm

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Please sign in to comment

You will be able to leave a comment after signing in



Sign In Now

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.