Alon Marcus

Dexter Gordon

388 posts in this topic

I guess I was just pointing out the difference between hipster and hip - Jack's point is well taken, but personally I often find it illuminating to hear why some people don't like certain musicians who are generally regarded as beyond criticism - I was thinking of Larry Kart's interesting comments, for example, on Bill Evans (and of Max Harrison, who has criticized late Coltrane - but let's not get started on THAT!) - sometimes, at least to me, it provides a useful perspective. Not to open a new can of worms, but I have had interesting discussions with some jazz people on the topic of well-respected jazz players that they don't like - and, as I said, it often speaks to some useful points- I was hesitant here, at first, because I hate to seem perpetually oppositional, but Dexter is, also interestingly, one of the names that seems to come up in those conversations (and a few of these people are fellow jazz musicians) -

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All those years in Europe. . . .

What do you think Dexter would have been like in the final decade and a half or so of his career had he stayed in the States all those years?

Do you think a bit of laissez faire that I think is at the heart of his work was amplified by being the celebrated jazz guy in the jazz houses and cafes of Europe. . . ? Would his approach and work have been altered had he been in the US scene all that time instead?

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What do you think Dexter would have been like in the final decade and a half or so of his career had he stayed in the States all those years?

He would have made the Thriller album instead of Michael Jackson.

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So in the end, some of us are into Dexter Gordon and some of us aren't. Regardless of which side you come down on, we have our reasons and explanations. I don't connect with some of the greats whom I'm supposed to by conventional wisdom and I really like a few obscure guys who never get talked about. It's cool.

I enjoyed this discussion except for the debate on decorum part and in the end I doubt anyone switched sides. Maybe someone who hasn't really checked out Dex yet will be intrigued enough to do so now, which would be a cool thing regardless of whose camp they joined afterwards.

Who's next?! :ph34r:

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no one has mentioned "ca'purange" and i am sorry if i mispelled it.

haven't heard this one in a while but i recall appreciating that it sounded a bit different than i expected.

the first tune was pretty vigorous and even the slow stuff had an edge, which i actually think came from stanley clarke's bass playing, which though staying well within the boundaries of the jazz music at hand, still had some of the sort of rubbery bounce i hear in his acoustic bass playing.

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What stereojack said, all of it except his personal experience seeing Dex.

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no one has mentioned "ca'purange" and i am sorry if i mispelled it.

haven't heard this one in a while but i recall appreciating that it sounded a bit different than i expected.

the first tune was pretty vigorous and even the slow stuff had an edge, which i actually think came from stanley clarke's bass playing, which though staying well within the boundaries of the jazz music at hand, still had some of the sort of rubbery bounce i hear in his acoustic bass playing.

Ca'purange is a fine album, but with all my love for Dexter Thad Jones and Hank Jones are stealing the spotlight from him on this one.

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One of his most interesting collaborations is the one with Jackie Mclean. They have different styles, Mclean plays much more outside and has quite an angular way of phrasing while Dexter rounds and sweetens his phrases. NHOP is simply great here.

My favorite tunes are Sunset and Rue de la Harpe.

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Ok, don't listen to me, how about Scott Yanow the main bop/hard bop reviewer of AMG, read his reviews of "Strings and Things" and "More Than You Know" I own 80 of his sessions. This includes all of the Blue Notes, all of the Prestige, and with the exception of the above two, all of the SteepleChase plus sessions from Black Lion/1201, his comeback period on Columbia, his early sessions in L.A. with Wardell Gray and Teddy Edwards, the two Bethlehem sessions. The two above SteepleChase sessions pale in comparison the the rest of his discography. But hey, if you like it more power to you and enjoy............................

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Any MF who can weave "Take Me Out To The Ball Game" into a solo so that it makes PERFECT sense is allright with me.

He definitly was the king of quotes.............

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Alon - you're missing my point vis a ve drugs and performance - I don't care who uses what before or after what or when; I was only pointing out that, in Dexter's case, it feels to me as though his drug use impacted his playing in a very specific way, and that the resulting impairment may have caused him to work toward a certain level of concentration. This level, for me, is not enough. Clearly other people here hear different things than I hear in his music. That's fine with me. I do, however, differ with Jim about Dexter's hipness quotient. True Hipster he may have been, but his limitations were also those of the hipster - glibness, a lot of shiny surface, hints (but only hints) of profundity and, ultimately, a wall of cliche - that, at least, is what I hear. And though I do understand why and how others may appreciate his playing, I just do not. And I have tried for about 30 years -

30 years and you still don't like Dex..........you're beyond help............

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I will add that Dexter does represent an extremely important school of tenor player - the guy who bridges the swing and bebop eras- one of quite a few significant historical figures - thinking Jacquet, Ammons, my old friend Percy France, Arnett Cobb, and many more, fascinating for their grasp of different approaches and feeling (like adding Hawk+Bird+Pres=Byas). But Dexter is for me the least compelling of all of these, though he was in the first generation. Even on those early Savoys, I listen and keep wondering when he is going to break loose, to show more than just (to paraphrase Jim) a hip grasp of key phraseology and rhythm - because Jim is essentially right and gets at what is, for me, the key to both Dexter's appeal and to his failure - he has the hip surface, and he gets beyond that surface with a deeper understanding than just hipster glibness - but never gets deep enough. And I honestly think the drugs had something to do with it, though I could not prove this in a court of law - after all it is possible that what I see as an essential shallowness and glibness may just have been Dexter. Or maybe not -

There are some people I just don't understand. I knew Dexter, stayed with him occasionally while in Copenhagen, and he was no surface hipster, he was the real thing.

Piano Red, if you can figure what this guy allen lowe is talking about, let me know..........

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Jim, I have to agree with your point of view here. There are those who play at being hip, and there are those who just are hip. Dexter was certainly among the latter. But the issue of hipness is irrelevant. For me, Dexter is one of the great individual voices in jazz, one of the first major jazz musicians I was lucky to see in person when I was 19, and a musician who I have loved and admired for over 40 years. Whenever Steeplechase comes out with yet another live recording or broadcast, I'm there, I so love Dexter. If Allen doesn't hear it, and I've had many conversations with Allen about a wide variety of music over the years, and I respect his opinion, so be it. Nothing he says is gonna convince me of anything - Dexter has been my "friend" for a long long time!

Jim accurately points out a handful of lesser performances in the Dexter discography, but man, these are so few among hundreds of masterpieces that Dexter has given us. I love his musical demeanor - laid back, laconic, playful, but underneath he conveys tremendous passion to me. How can anybody not be moved by a performance like "I Guess I'll Hang My Tears Out To Dry" (from Go)?

A problem I have with these kinds of discussions is that sometimes too much is said - I just sit back bemused that people feel a need to debate what many of us consider to be the truth, and while I follow these discussions, I rarely feel the need to join in. I hadda chime in here - Dexter is "my main man"!

Im with you 100% Sterojack............

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Im with you 100% Sterojack............

Not 100% - I like "More Than You Know"... :cool:

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I consider myself a fan of Dexter, though I do like the BN and Prestige periods better than Steeplechase. I'm sure in large part this is because his supporting cast is better on these recordings, with the major exception of NHOP on most of the Steeplechase dates. The only album I have had trouble getting into is the material on the Select, oddly enough. I'll listen to it again in a while and see what I think then.

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Ok, don't listen to me, how about Scott Yanow the main bop/hard bop reviewer of AMG, read his reviews of "Strings and Things" and "More Than You Know" I own 80 of his sessions.

I really hope you mean LTD's sessions and not Scott Yanow's.

:crazy:

Edited by Alon Marcus

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"Piano Red, if you can figure what this guy allen lowe is talking about, let me know........."

that's funny Mr "Jazzman" - about 25 other people in this thread, agree or not, seem to understand -

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but than again, you seem to enjoy reading Scott Yanow - the least knowledgable jazz critic in the universe -

Edited by AllenLowe

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but than again, you seem to enjoy reading Scott Yanow - the least knowledgable jazz critic in the universe -

Now I'm furious.

How can you say it?

How can you say Scott Yanow is the least knowledgeable jazz critic in the universe?

You simply have no respect for Tom Jurek.

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Scott Yanow needs to be stopped - it's like that old statistic: in India there is a woman giving birth every 40 seconds - we've got to find this woman and stop her - well, Scott Yanow seems to be writing a review every 10 seconds - and must be stopped before he destroys our way of life.

Actually, I don't believe there there really IS a Scott Yanow - in reality his reviews come out of a factory in China, written by 12 year girls, and translated on the internet through auto-translation -

Edited by AllenLowe

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I think there's another way of looking at Dex. When you listen to his ballads, the guy is a singer!

One of the things Dex often did was recite a few of the words to the songs he played. Jazz isn't a bunch of notes strung along chords. In Dex's case, much of the meaning of his playing was embedded in the words of the songs he sung on tenor sax. So, I think, to really follow a Dex ballad, and feel what Dex was feeling and trying to convey, you need to sing the words in your mind. And that was why he started by saying the words to the song.

When he hesitates, yes, sure it swings, but I feel it's got something to do with reminding us what he's singing about.

And when he throws in a quote, that quote isn't just a bit of business to get him onto the next idea; I often feel that the quotes are something to do with the words, or the feelings they embrace for Dex.

Another thing I love about Dex is the way he felt about Jug. And where did he get that sound from? You've guessed.

So my favourite Dex albums are

"Live at Montreux" with Junior Mance - the "Maiden voyage" feel to "Body and soul" is just sublime

"Ca Purange" Dex's version of this tune is nearly as good as Jug's

"The Chase" with Jug.

"Go"

"Clubhouse"

"Getting around" I love the material on these two.

The material he recorded with Leo Parker for Savoy in the '40s.

MG

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It is hard for me to be objective about Dex. He was one of the people who turned me into a jazz head in the 1970s. I would never miss him when he came to town, first with the quintet with Woody Shaw, and then with the quartet with George Cables et al.

I find the discussion on this thread to be interesting. It is true that Dex plays WAY behind the beat. If that is due to drugs, then he must have always been high. To me, that is just a part of his very personal language. I can't imagine Dex without it. It wouldn't be Dex.

Dex's approach is also a study in understatement. Just when you think that he will, or should, "breakout," as Allen says, he doesn't. But I also consider that to be one of Dex's special trademarks. You can virtually hear the breakout in your head that Dex doesn't play. He keeps it on ice.

Most important, Dex is a voice. He sings on his horn, and he told stories that were all his own. I just LOVE hearing him.

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On the subject of Dexter, how bad is the "Cool Summer" DVD? It could have been a tad longer with some more information. Has anyone here seen the "Cool Summer" DVD?

Edited by Hardbopjazz

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On the subject of Dexter, how bad is the "Cool Summer" DVD? It could have been a tade longer with some more information. Has anyone here seen the "Cool Summer" DVD?

Not familiar with Cool Summer or tade. Can you 'splain?

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