An Impulse Buy. I was not shopping for a jazz disc at all. In fact I was only passing through on my way to the classical section when I came upon Dexter Gordon with Junior Mance at Montreux. It was really Junior Mance's name that jumped out at me. Mance belongs to a group of gospel/blues based pianists that includes Gene Harris and Monty Alexander and whose playing has always appealed to me. The strength of both Gordon’s and Mance’s performance and overall superb execution compelled me to critically revisit this recording.
Perfect Balance. At Montreux is bookended with two popular Gordon compositions "Fried Bananas" and "The Panther". The four tunes in between represent jazz very well: one Ellington tune ("Sophisticated Lady"), two Monk Compositions ("Rhythm-a-ing" and Blue Monk") and a tenor anthem ("Body and Soul"). Junior Mance ensures a blues sensibility infuses each piece. Gordon and Mance iron out the Monk idiosyncrasies producing two songs that stroll with a confident momentum.
Ballads. Dexter Gordon was very well know for his ballad playing and the two on this disc were showpieces for him for his entire career. "Sophisticated Lady" is laconic and sexy while "Body and Soul" is deep down, full throated honest. Mance and his trio provide seamless accompaniment for the Tower of Power on all pieces. This recording was very much a pleasant surprise that I would recommend to Dexter Gordon novices over some of his more noteworthy recordings such as Go and Our Man in Paris.
Track Listing: Fried Bananas, Sophisticated Lady, Rhythm-a-ing, Body and Soul, Blue Monk, The Panther.
Personnel: Dexter Gordon: Tenor Saxophone; Junior Mance: Piano; Martin Rivera: Bass; Oliver Jackson: Drums.