Though in many regards a standard, none-too-frenetic quartet setting, Dexter Gordon Quartet Tokyo 1975 is still as grand a starting point for Elemental Music's inaugural launch of previously unreleased jazz performances as can be.
Gordon found himself exuberantly liberated from the antiquated (and sadly all too present) prejudices of America during his fourteen-year expatriation to Europe from 1962 to '76. Working and living primarily in Paris and Copenhagen, Gordon gigged and recorded with visiting friends and fellow expats such as Bud Powell, Freddie Hubbard, and Bobby Hutcherson. A special telepathy developed with pianist Kenny Drew (think Miles Davis and Gil Evans or John Coltrane and McCoy Tyner), and the two recorded, most notably, the musical score to Danish director Ole Ege's 1971's hardcore film Pornografi: En Musical.
Recorded at the Yubin Chokin Hall Dexter Gordon Quartet Tokyo 1975 captures the saxophonist on the cusp of his return to the States, and even if his renowned hard tone is in some abeyance on this date, the music is still integral to his canon. With bassist supreme Niels-Henning Orsted Pedersen holding the core and driving the fringes, and drummer Albert Tootie Heath holding a steady swing, Gordon kicks off the proceedings with a frisky read of his longstanding original, "Fried Bananas."
He then offers up two chestnuts which may not challenge either then or now, but are certainly rewarding, with both Gordon and Drew's sweeping melodic touch on Henry Mancini's "Days of Wine and Roses" and Erroll Garner's time-honored "Misty." Gordon then sings his way through a loose, barrel-house ramble of Billy Eckstine's "Jelly, Jelly, Jelly."
Elemental rounds out the set with a sprightly spirited "Rhythm-a-Ning," from Holland in '73 and with Espen Rud behind the skins. Having returned to the States (Connecticut to be exact), "Old Folks" features Gordon's homecoming quartet of pianist Ronnie Matthews, bassist Stafford James and drummer Louis Hayes.
Fried Bananas; Days of Wine and Roses; Misty; Jelly, Jelly, Jelly; Rhythm-a-Ning; Old Folks.
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