October 12th bears witness to a superb all-inclusive examination of one of jazz's great saxophone players and composers, Dexter Gordon. The eleven-disc collection The Complete Prestige Recordings contains eighty-eight tracks. Of those, most are from Gordon's repertoire as a bandleader, with a few tracks included as a sideman or co-leader with Gene Ammons, Wardell Gray and Booker Ervin.
Appropriately enough, the box set kicks off with a nine-plus minute live track jam with Wardell Gray. This track highlights the cornerstone attribute of Gordon's artistry and sets the tone for the entire collection; the celebration of his talent to live in the moment and play some of the greatest and most memorable solos of his era. The era that this collection examines showcases Gordon's balancing act between the melodic and rhythmic playing of his past and the inventiveness and freedom of the time's exploration into the avant-garde and freeform arenas. In many examples contained in this package, we hear Gordon at his finest laying out solos that sometimes were more memorable than the song's hook.
The recordings are culled from his work with the Prestige labels (and a few from Riverside and Jazzland) during the late sixties and early seventies when Gordon returned to recording in the United States. These tracks, eleven of which are unreleased, come from the albums by Gordon as a leader: The Resurgence of Dexter Gordon (1960) The Tower of Power! (1969), More Power! (1969), The Panther! (1970), The Jumpin' Blues (1970), Dexter Gordon with Junior Mance at Montreux (1970), Generation (1972), Tangerine (1972) and Blues a la Suisse (1973). Other albums from which the material was compiled include The Chase! (1970) and Gene Ammons and Friends at Montreux (1973), both with Gene Ammons; Wardell Gray's Wardell Gray Memorial, Vol. 2 (1950); and Setting the Pace (1965), with Booker Ervin.
In addition to the great music that was formatted to be both educational and enjoyable, the Gordon Prestige box adds an in-depth essay by Ted Panken that should be a serious contender for the album notes Grammy Award, a series of over eighteen studio and intimate photographs and very detailed credits and liner notes.
The Complete Prestige Recordings appropriately celebrates a great man's music and spirit with wonderful track selection and order, providing insight into the artist and this era, and photography that serves as a window into the experience.
Track Listing: DISC 1:
2. Home Run
4. Lovely Lisa
5. Affair in Havana
6. Jodi Field Day
7. Setting the Pace
1. Dexter's Deck
3. Lady Bird
4. Sticky Wicket
5. Montmartre - (alternate take)
6. Lady Bird - (alternate take)
1. Sticky Wicket - (alternate take)
2. Those Were the Days
3. Stanley the Steamer
4. Rainbow People, The
5. Boston Bernie
6. Meditation (Medita_no)
7. Fried Bananas
8. Dinner For One Please, James
9. Stanley the Steamer - (alternate take)
10. Rainbow People, The - (alternate take)
1. Boston Bernie - (alternate take)
2. Fried Bananas - (alternate take)
4. Boston Bernie
5. In A Sentimental Mood
6. Blues Up and Down
3. Love For Sale
4. Fried Bananas
5. Sophisticated Lady
2. Body and Soul
3. Blue Monk
4. Panther, The - (two versions)
5. Body and Soul
6. Valse Robin
7. Mrs. Miniver
8. Christmas Song, The
1. Blues Walk
2. Valse Robin - (alternate take)
3. Mrs. Miniver - (alternate take)
4. Blues Walk - (alternate take)
5. Polka Dots and Moonbeams
6. Wee Dot
7. Happy Blues, The
8. Lonesome Lover Blues - (alternate take)
1. Lover Man (Oh Where Can You Be): I Can't Get Started / My Funny Valentine / Misty / Medley
2. Chase, The
3. Lonesome Lover Blues
6. For Sentimental Reasons (I Love You)
7. Star Eyes
8. Jumpin' Blues, The
1. Evergreenish - (alternate take)
2. Rhythm-a-ning - (alternate take)
3. For Sentimental Reasons - (alternate take)
4. Star Eyes - (alternate take)
5. Jumpin' Blues, The - (alternate take)
7. Sacred to Be Alone
8. Group, The
9. Days of Wine and Roses
10. We See
1. Milestones - (alternate take)
2. Scared to Be Alone - (alternate take)
3. Group, The - (alternate take)
4. Ca' Purange (Jungle Soul)
6. First Time Ever I Saw Your Face, The
7. What It Was
9. Oh! Karen O
10. Alegrin - (alternate take)
1. August Blues
2. Gingerbread Boy
3. Blues B la Suisse
4. Some Other Spring
5. Secret Love
7. Treux Bleu
Personnel: Personnel: Dexter Gordon (tenor saxophone); Gene Ammons, James Moody, Booker Ervin.
I love jazz because it swings.
I was first exposed to jazz in Houston.
I met Joe LoCascio and Bob Henschen.
The best show I ever attended was Pat Martino.
The first jazz record I bought was Time Out by the Dave Brubeck Quartet.
My advice to new listeners is to relax on 2 and 4 beats.