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Dexter Gordon: Gettin' Around

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"The Tower of Power," "Long Tall," "LT"—you don't acquire such noms de troubadour by being retiring or inconspicuous in your approach to making music. Indeed, Dexter Gordon is such a forceful presence and commanding storyteller that he can be a heavy load, requiring nothing less than the listener's undivided attention. Gettin' Around, a 2006 release of a 2005 Rudy Van Gelder-remastered 1965 session, reveals a more dulcet and demure Gordon. He softens his sound, holds back on the searing top tones, evens out his vibrato, and takes more than a page out of the Lester Young book: this is Gordon in a mellotone, a session that plays well any time and any number of times.

This is not to say the great tenor allusionist isn't up to his usual tricks. On the first chorus of his solo on "Manha de Carnaval," he quotes three bars of Victor Young's "Delilah"; during his own "Le Coiffeur" (a cross between the samba "So Nice" and Charlie Parker's "My Little Suede Shoes"), he incorporates Debussy's "Claire de Lune." Finally, Gordon does for the sentimental chestnut "Heartaches," what Hank Mobley does for Irving Berlin's "Remember" on Soul Station—refreshing it and transforming it into a hip tune. Only on "Very Saxily Yours," excluded from the original LP, does the tenor giant begin to show his customarily aggressive edge.

Bobby Hutcherson stays laid-back and in the pocket, just like Barry Harris—in fact, both musicians assume supportive roles that encourage Gordon to keep the flame burning low. Although this may not be a five-star performance like Go! or Our Man in Paris, don't be surprised if it receives more plays than some of Gordon's more essential recording dates.

Track Listing: Manha De Carnaval; Who Can I Turn To (When Nobody Needs Me); Heartaches; Shiny Stockings; Everybody's Somebody's Fool; Le Coiffeur; Very Saxily Yours; Flick Of A Trick.

Personnel: Dexter Gordon: tenor saxophone; Bobby Hutcherson: vibraphone; Barry Harris: piano; Bob Cranshaw: bass; Billy Higgins: drums.

Title: Gettin' Around | Year Released: 2006 | Record Label: Blue Note Records

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