As shoddily put together compilations go, tenor saxophonist Dexter Gordon's three-disc Blue Note collection, Best Of 3CD, scrapes rock bottom. From the asinine title, through the inadequate liner annotation (no recording dates, no original album titles, misspelled musicians' names), to the full page photo of Rahsaan Roland Kirk, in simultaneous saxello, stritch and manzello flight, on the inner gatefold cover, it's a lame effort. And it gets worse. That photo is followed by another double-page photo of Kirk, this one unambiguously titled "Dexter Gordon," on the centerfold of the liner booklet.
Take a bow EMI France, who put the package together.
Here's what the liner notes don't tell us. Best Of 3CD is a compilation Gordon's 1961-65 period on Blue Note. There are selections, chronologically programmed, from Doin' Alright (1961), Dexter Calling (1961), Landslide (1962), Go! (1962), A Swingin' Affair (1962), Our Man In Paris (1963), One Flight Up (1964), Clubhouse (1965) and Getting' Around (1965). Armed with that information, you can work out the personnel for each trackif you have time, strong overhead lighting and maybe a magnifying glass, for the type size and color-way of the booklet conspire against easy reading (as does the translation of the brief introductory essay, from French to an approximation of English, presumably made by an online program).
The music on the discs is, of course, exceptional. The early 1960s were golden years for Gordon and there are glories here in abundance. Few things in life can compare with the saxophonist's shamanistic performance of "Night In Tunisia" (from Our Man In Paris), and there are many, many other moments of bliss. Devotees may quibble about the inclusion of some tracks, or the omission of others, but really, you can't go wrong.
Which begs the question, who is Best Of 3CD aimed at? Not hardcore fans, who'll have the original albums already. The casual listener then. But surely, for these folks, a single or perhaps double discwith a decent accompanying bookletwould be more appropriate?
Who knows? Not EMI France, for sure.
Personnel: Dexter Gordon: tenor saxophone. Collective personnel: Freddie Hubbard: trumpet; Tommy Turrentine: trumpet; Dave Burns: trumpet; Donald Byrd: trumpet; Sonny Stitt: tenor saxophone; Horace Parlan: piano; Kenny Drew: piano; Sir Charles Thompson: piano; Sonny Clark: piano; Bud Powell: piano; Barry Harris: piano; Bobby Hutcherson: vibraphone; Don Patterson: organ; Paul Weeden: guitar; George Tucker: bass; Paul Chambers: bass; Al Lucas: bass; Ron Carter: bass; Butch Warren: bass; Pierre Michelot: bass; Niels Orsted Pedersen: bass; Bob Cranshaw: bass; Al Harewood: drums; Philly Joe Jones: drums; Willie Bobo: drums; Billy James: drums; Billy Higgins: drums; Kenny Clarke: drums; Arthur Taylor: drums.