It is no secret that Dexter Gordon relocated to Europe for much of the 1960s, but he did return to the US sporadically for recording sessions. This recently reissued album, recorded at Rudy Van Gelder's legendary Englewood Cliffs studio, was cut during one of those return visits.
The musicians who join L.T.D. are some of the finest on their respective instruments: vibraphone master Bobby Hutcherson, pianist Barry Harris, bassist Bob Crenshaw and drummer Billy Higgins. Their backing is first-rate and the leader responds with an excellent effort of his own. Gordon is in his element here, telling epic stories in the span of a few minutes. The stories vary in content, spanning the gamut of the emotional spectrum. His solos are filled with fire, sorrow, humor, and of course quotes from other tunes, a device that Gordon was particularly fond of throughout his career.
The opening "Mahna de Carnaval was a popular composition with jazz musicians during this period, but Gordon manages to put his own unique stamp on it. Hutcherson builds his solo effectively, beginning with one note and gradually adding to that before producing faster passages that release the tension. Gordon slows things down considerably with "Who Can I Turn To, displaying his balladic prowess. The way he and Hutcherson complement one another is not something that can be taught.
Frank Foster's "Shiny Stockings, a tune that another big toned tenor, Booker Ervin, recorded for his 1966 Structurally Sound album, is taken at a medium tempo. Hutcherson's solo draws heavily on ideas pioneered by Milt Jackson.
The only Gordon original here is "Le Coiffeur, a samba with a relaxed, loping feel. Higgins' always tasty drumming is on full display, while Gordon, Hutcherson and Harris each respond with solos that are perfectly in synch with the mood of the composition. The closing "Flick of a Trick is a blues with an interesting saxophone introduction over a rolling piano figure. The rhythm section creates a bouncy groove that the leader seems to dig, as he preaches a soulful solo. Bassist Crenshaw also takes a solo, displaying a nice tone and ideas.
Another worthwhile Dexter Gordon session on Blue Note, with excellent sideman support.
Personnel: Dexter Gordon: tenor sax; Bobby Hutcherson: vibes; Barry Harris: piano; Bob Crenshaw: bass;
Billy Higgins: drums.