Sunday, 7 November 2010


Picked up a real bargain the other week. A 3 CD set of Dexter Gordon tunes for £5 (including P&P).
Now. I've been a bit of a Dexter "fan" for a good while. Pretty much since I got into jazz to be honest, and certainly the first CD I picked up was one of his Blue Note albums.
Anyway. This "box set" (actually it's a gate fold sleeve - but lets not quibble) is all stuff culled from his discs on Prestige, Jazzland and Galaxy Recordings, and is billed as being stuff from 1950-1977.
Now, the "1950-1977" part is slightly misleading as out of the 25 tunes presented, only 3 are pre 1969.
What the collection mostly represents is the later years that Dexter spent living in Europe as well as the very early stuff after his return to the states in 1976.
This has opened my eyes (ears?) to quite a "gap" in the stuff that I already had in my collection. I already had quite a lot of his early bebop stuff from the 40's, all of his Blue Note output and quite a bit of his later work that came out about the time of the movie "Round Midnight".

Long Tall Dexter

A few years ago I was given an "evaluation" copy of a CD by the George Cables Trio of music by, and made famous by Dexter (George and his trio accompanied Dexter on many of his later recordings). It was such a good CD that I salved my conscience by replacing the "evaluation" copy with a ligit' one at the first opportunity. Anyway,  on that album the trio do a wonderful version of "Polka Dots and Moonbeams". Before they start playing Cables very slowly and in a drawn out lazy sounding voice recites the first few lines of the lyrics.... "a country dance was being held in a garden... I felt a bump, and 'Oh. I beg your pardon'. Suddenly it seemed that polka dots and moonbeams.....". In the sleeve notes Cables says how this is how Dexter would introduce many songs when giving live performances. He would "speak" the opening few lines of a tune in that low, quiet, alcohol and nicotine marinaded voice of his.
It's always been a favourite of mine, so I was delighted that a "live" ten and a half minute version is on this CD set.
Beautiful stuff.

Years ago I had a photograph of Dexter. It was one that had been taken in the early 60's in London. In the picture he looks every bit the 60's jazz musician - short hair, sharp suit and the obligatory cigarette. But he's standing with one foot up on a stand having his shoes shined with a look of incredible joy on his face. Which given that, at that time, in his own country, the thought of an African American having his shoes shined by a white man, would have been almost unthinkable, isn't too surprising.
I always liked that photo but lost it about 12 years ago in a house move.
So yesterday acquiring another copy really made my day. Sadly the source that I acquired it from has asked me not to publish or share it... so I wont.

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