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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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Tags

Noah Peterson
saxophone
Dave Wilson
saxophone
Jackie McLean
saxophone, alto
Ted Hogarth
saxophone, baritone
Dave Mullen
saxophone, tenor
Matt Snyder
clarinet
Andrea Claburn
voice / vocals
Ryan Anselmi
saxophone, tenor
Ruud de Vries
saxophone, tenor
Gregory Dudzienski
saxophone, tenor
Dennis Skerrett
saxophone
Lynn Ligammari
saxophone
Dan Wilensky
saxophone
Don Hanson
saxophone
Aldo Salvent
saxophone, tenor
Wesley Crispus
saxophone
Stephanie Lottermoser
saxophone, tenor
Milo Lombardi
saxophone
Sweet Lu Olutosin
voice / vocals
Oleksandr Kolosii
saxophone, tenor
Angela Verbrugge
voice / vocals
Thomas Hamilton
saxophone, tenor
Jamile
voice / vocals
Tim Boniface
saxophone
The Jazz Bastards
band/orchestra
Patricia López
saxophone
CHYKE MARTINS
saxophone
Jérôme Masco
saxophone
Dave Coules
saxophone
Andres Hayes
saxophone, tenor
Gabriel Judet-Weinshel
composer/conductor
Willie D
saxophone, tenor
Rohan Buch
saxophone
Rob Ames
saxophone, soprano

Photos

Album Discography

Recordings: As Leader | As Sideperson

Tokyo 1975

Elemental Music
2018

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Espace Cardin 1977

Elemental Music
2018

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Soy Califa: Live From...

Gearbox Records
2014

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North Sea Jazz...

Bob City Records
2013

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