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Dexter Gordon

Dexter Gordon is an NEA Jazz Master

Dexter Gordon is considered to be the first musician to translate the language of Bebop to the tenor saxophone.

Dexter Keith Gordon was born on February 27, 1923 in Los Angeles, California. His father, Dr. Frank Gordon, was one of the first African American doctors in Los Angeles who arrived in 1918 after graduating from Howard Medical School in Washington, D.C. Among his patients were Duke Ellington and Lionel Hampton. Dexter's mother, Gwendolyn Baker, was the daughter of Captain Edward Baker, one of the five African American Medal of Honor recipients in the Spanish-American War.

He began his study of music with the clarinet at age 13, then switched to the alto saxophone at 15, and finally to the tenor saxophone at 17. He studied music with Lloyd Reese and at Jefferson High School with Sam Browne. In his last year of high school, he received a call from alto saxophonist Marshall Royal asking him to join the Lionel Hampton Band. He left Los Angeles with the band, traveling down south and learning to play from fellow band members Illinois Jacquet and Joe Newman. In January 1941, the band played at the Grand Terrace in Chicago for six months and the radio broadcasts made there were Dexter’s first recordings.

It was in 1943, while in New York City with the Hampton band, that Dexter sat in at Minton’s Playhouse with Ben Webster and Lester Young. This was to be one of the most important moments in his long musical career as, as he put it, “people started to take notice.”

Back in Los Angeles in 1943, Dexter played mainly with Lee Young (Lester Young’s brother) and with Jesse Price plus a few weeks with the Fletcher Henderson Orchestra. In 1944, he worked with Louis Armstrong ‘s orchestra which was one of the highlights of his careers. Being in the company of the great trumpet master was inspiring and gave him insight into the world of music that he never forgot. It was during this period that Gordon made his first lengthy solo recordings as the leader of a quintet session with Nat "King" Cole as a sideman.

In 1944, Dexter joined the Billy Eckstine band, the source of many of the Bebop innovators of the time and many of the most prominent bandleaders in the future. He was surrounded nightly by Sarah Vaughan, Dizzy Gillespie, Fats Navarro, Sonny Stitt, Gene Ammons, Leo Parker, John Malachi, and other architects of the new music.

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Radio & Podcasts

Our Man in Paris: An American Travelogue

Read "Our Man in Paris: An American Travelogue" reviewed by David Brown


For this week's show, let's travel to Europe with a variety of American artists performing in France, recording for French film soundtracks, and collaborating with French artists. Etes-vous prêt? Co-hosted by Lisa Jo Epstein. Playlist Thelonious Monk “Esistrophy (Theme)" from Live at the It Club-Complete (Columbia) 06:10 Sidney Bechet “Ooh Boogie!" from Sidney Bechet and his New Orleans Feetwarmers (Esquire) 03:00 Les Double Six “Naima" from Les Double Six (RCA Victor) 05:55 Dexter Gordon “Scraple from the Apple" ...

15
Album Review

Various Artists: The Birth of Bop

Read "The Birth of Bop" reviewed by Richard J Salvucci


Someone famously called jazz the sound of surprise, but all too often, what is on offer is the dull hum of routine. Or something like that. This historic reissue is, however, anything but routine. This is not the first time that Teddy Reig's Savoy sides have been reissued (was he also the mysterious Buck Ram listed as producing one track?), but Craft Recordings took a lot of trouble to produce this very fine selection. If a listener were, ...

1
Book Review

Dexter Gordon - Sophisticated Giant. La biografia del grande sassofonista

Read "Dexter Gordon - Sophisticated Giant. La biografia del grande sassofonista" reviewed by Angelo Leonardi


Dexter Gordon—Sophisticated Giant Maxine Gordon 294 pagine ISBN: # 9788859257523 EDT 2019 Questa splendida biografia di Dexter Gordon è in circolazione da un po' ma resta attuale come ogni classico: è infatti uno dei migliori (e appassionanti) esempi di letteratura jazzistica. Nessuno, meglio dell'ultima moglie Maxine, poteva delineare la figura artistica e le vicende umane (spesso ignote) del grande sassofonista inserendole nel grande affresco storico e sociale del jazz moderno.

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Radio & Podcasts

The Return of Dexter Gordon (1961 - 1963)

Read "The Return of Dexter Gordon (1961 - 1963)" reviewed by Russell Perry


After spending most of the 1950s in jail for two different drug busts, Dexter Gordon was paroled in 1960 and preceded to record a legendary series of records for Blue Note Records. Several of these records included rhythm sections led by the light-fingered but short-lived pianist, Sonny Clark. Playlist Host Intro 0:00 Dexter Gordon Quintet. “I Was Doing All Right" from Doin' Allright (Blue Note) 3:40 Dexter Gordon Quintet. “You've Changed" from Doin' Allright (Blue Note) 12:57 Host ...

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Radio & Podcasts

Jazz on Central Avenue - Bebop in Los Angeles (1945 - 1948)

Read "Jazz on Central Avenue - Bebop in Los Angeles (1945 - 1948)" reviewed by Russell Perry


Most of the pioneering bebop musicians we have featured in the past several programs were based in New York—Bird, Dizzy, Monk, Bud Powell, Coleman Hawkins, Fats Navarro, J.J. Johnson, Max Roach. While New York may have dominated the modern music scene, it wasn't the only scene. The wartime economy in southern California brought an influx of African-American workers, not dissimilar to Chicago in the 1920s, and with them musicians, nightclubs and dance halls. “Bebop was born in Harlem ...

Album Review

Dexter Gordon: Espace Cardin 1977

Read "Espace Cardin 1977" reviewed by Maurizio Zerbo


Pur non aggiungendo nulla rispetto a quanto si è già ampiamente ascoltato di Dexter Gordon, Espace Cardin 1977 è un CD da tenere in considerazione per diverse ragioni. Ritroviamo l'allora cinquantacinquenne sassofonista ad un nuovo punto di svolta della sua già fulgida trentennale carriera, appena rilanciata dal contratto discografico con la Sony. Questo set parigino è uno degli ultimi suoi concerti europei antecedenti il ritorno negli Stati Uniti e ne documenta il felice connubio con Al Haig, altro artista dal ...

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Radio & Podcasts

John Escreet, The Expansions and More

Read "John Escreet, The Expansions and More" reviewed by Joe Dimino


To open this week's episode of Neon Jazz we feature the British pianist John Escreet and one of his heroes, Keith Jarrett. The show pays tribute to the talented jazz singer Kellye Gray and profiles The Standard Vocal Jazz Ensemble out of Kansas City Kansas Community College. Also spotlighted are jazz icons like Dexter Gordon and John Coltrane, not to mention more British jazz courtesy of The Expansions. Playlist John Escreet “Global Citizenk" Learn to Live (Blue Room ...

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Birthday

Jazz Musician of the Day: Dexter Gordon

Jazz Musician of the Day: Dexter Gordon

Source: Michael Ricci

All About Jazz is celebrating Dexter Gordon's birthday today!

Dexter Gordon is considered to be the first musician to translate the language of Bebop to the tenor saxophone. Dexter Keith Gordon was born on February 27, 1923 in Los Angeles, California. His father, Dr. Frank Gordon, was one of the first African American doctors in Los Angeles who arrived in 1918 after graduating from Howard Medical School in Washington, D.C. Among his patients were Duke Ellington and Lionel Hampton. Dexter's ...

Video / DVD

Five New Dexter Gordon Videos

Five New Dexter Gordon Videos

Source: JazzWax by Marc Myers

As jazz musicians go, Dexter Gordon was among the coolest. He walked cool, he talked cool and he played cool. Cool came naturally to him. Perhaps that side of him came from growing up in Los Angeles in the 1930s. Or perhaps it came from meeting all of the cool musicians his physician father treated, including Duke Ellington and Lionel Hampton. Here are five Dexter Gordon videos that recently were uploaded to YouTube: Here's Gordon in Europe in 1971... Here's ...

Video / DVD

Dexter Gordon: 'Soul Sister'

Dexter Gordon: 'Soul Sister'

Source: JazzWax by Marc Myers

When Dexter Gordon moved to Europe alone in 1962, he hoped his then wife, Jodi, and his daughters would join him. But once there, he created a new life in Europe and the couple divorced mid-decade, writes Maxine Gordon, the tenor saxophonist's road manager and widow, in her moving and well researched memoir, Sophisticated Giant. Gordon had a lot to forget, but those sad memories had nothing to do with his family and everything to do with California. The state ...

Birthday

Jazz Musician of the Day: Dexter Gordon

Jazz Musician of the Day: Dexter Gordon

Source: Michael Ricci

All About Jazz is celebrating Dexter Gordon's birthday today!

Dexter Gordon is considered to be the first musician to translate the language of Bebop to the tenor saxophone. Dexter Keith Gordon was born on February 27, 1923 in Los Angeles, California. His father, Dr. Frank Gordon, was one of the first African American doctors in Los Angeles who arrived in 1918 after graduating from Howard Medical School in Washington, D.C. Among his patients were Duke Ellington and Lionel Hampton. Dexter's ...

Birthday

Jazz Musician of the Day: Dexter Gordon

Jazz Musician of the Day: Dexter Gordon

Source: Michael Ricci

All About Jazz is celebrating Dexter Gordon's birthday today!

Dexter Gordon is considered to be the first musician to translate the language of Bebop to the tenor saxophone. Dexter Keith Gordon was born on February 27, 1923 in Los Angeles, California. His father, Dr. Frank Gordon, was one of the first African American doctors in Los Angeles who arrived in 1918 after graduating from Howard Medical School in Washington, D.C. Among his patients were Duke Ellington and Lionel Hampton. Dexter's ...

1

Video / DVD

Dexter Gordon's Ballads (1946-'52)

Dexter Gordon's Ballads (1946-'52)

Source: JazzWax by Marc Myers

Dexter Gordon in the late 1940s and early '50s was best known for jumpers such as The Chase, The Hunt and Dexter's Deck. But among his many high-energy 78s are a handful of ballads that show off his yearning, romantic tone. Here are five Dexter Gordon ballads and a bonus track: Here's Gordon in New York playing I Can't Escape From You in January 1946, with Bud Powell (p), Curly Russell (b) and Max Roach (d)... Here's Gordon in Hollywood ...

Video / DVD

Doc: Dexter Gordon, 1996

Doc: Dexter Gordon, 1996

Source: JazzWax by Marc Myers


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Book / Magazine

Maxine Gordon on Dexter Gordon

Maxine Gordon on Dexter Gordon

Source: JazzWax by Marc Myers

Dexter Gordon was a remarkable tenor saxophonist. A towering, dashing figure with an embracing smile and a wry sense of humor, Gordon was a powerful player whose bebop approach was equally assertive and romantic. [Photo above of Maxine Gordon by Fiona Ross, courtesy of Maxine Gordon] A bebop star in Los Angeles in the late 1940s, Gordon didn't tour or record for much of the 1950s due to incarceration for heroin use. Nevertheless, Gordon made up for lost time in ...

Video / DVD

Videos: Dexter Gordon

Videos: Dexter Gordon

Source: JazzWax by Marc Myers

Yesterday I found myself listening to quite a bit of Dexter Gordon's Blue Note recordings in the 1960s. The cutting edge of his tenor saxophone and mournful quality of his blues sounded just right for the housebound. Here are four videos plus a bonus: Here's Dexter Gordon playing Tadd Dameron's Lady Bird in Belgium in 1964, with pianist George Gruntz, bassist Guy Pedersen and drummer Daniel Humair... Here's Oscar Peterson and Gordon playing You Stepped Out of a Dream in ...

Birthday

Jazz Musician of the Day: Dexter Gordon

Jazz Musician of the Day: Dexter Gordon

Source: Michael Ricci

All About Jazz is celebrating Dexter Gordon's birthday today!

Dexter Gordon is considered to be the first musician to translate the language of Bebop to the tenor saxophone. Dexter Keith Gordon was born on February 27, 1923 in Los Angeles, California. His father, Dr. Frank Gordon, was one of the first African American doctors in Los Angeles who arrived in 1918 after graduating from Howard Medical School in Washington, D.C. Among his patients were Duke Ellington and Lionel Hampton. Dexter's ...

Noah Peterson
saxophone
Dave Wilson
saxophone
Don Braden
saxophone, tenor
Jackie McLean
saxophone, alto
Ted Hogarth
saxophone, baritone
Dave Mullen
saxophone, tenor
Matt Snyder
clarinet
David Jones
saxophone
Ryan Anselmi
saxophone, tenor
Martin Uherek
saxophone, tenor
Ruud de Vries
saxophone, tenor
Gregory Dudzienski
saxophone, tenor
Dennis Skerrett
saxophone
Lynn Ligammari
saxophone
Dan Wilensky
saxophone
Iman Spaargaren
saxophone, tenor
Perry Thoorsell
bass, acoustic
Charlie Jennison
saxophone, alto
Leigh Pilzer
saxophone, baritone
Don Hanson
saxophone
Carl Clements
saxophone
Dominik Schürmann
bass, acoustic
Aldo Salvent
saxophone, tenor
Wesley Crispus
saxophone
Nick Rosario
trombone
Stephanie Lottermoser
saxophone, tenor
Milo Lombardi
saxophone
Sarah James
vocals
Oleksandr Kolosii
saxophone, tenor
Thomas Hamilton
saxophone, tenor
Jamile
vocals
Tim Boniface
saxophone
Alex Clarke
saxophone
The Jazz Bastards
band / ensemble / orchestra
Patricia López
saxophone
CHYKE MARTINS
saxophone
Jens Bunge
harmonica
Jérôme Masco
saxophone
Dave Coules
saxophone
Andres Hayes
saxophone, tenor
Gabriel Judet-Weinshel
composer / conductor
Willie D
saxophone, tenor
Brian Sacco
saxophone
Rohan Buch
saxophone
Rob Ames
saxophone, soprano
Steve Britt
saxophone
Zock Organ Trio
band / ensemble / orchestra
Jeremy Terry
saxophone
Tyler Levy Sniff
saxophone, tenor
Chuck Currie
woodwinds
Egor Tokarev
saxophone, tenor
Gus Leighton
saxophone

Photos

Music

Recordings: As Leader | As Sideperson

The Birth of Bop

Craft Recordings
2023

buy

Tokyo 1975

Elemental Music
2018

buy

Espace Cardin 1977

Elemental Music
2018

buy

Soy Califa: Live From...

Gearbox Records
2014

buy

Videos

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