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Reviewers: Tony Augarde [Editor], Steve Arloff, Nick Barnard, Pierre Giroux, Don Mather, James Poore, Glyn Pursglove, George Stacy, Bert Thompson, Sam Webster, Jonathan Woolf



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Dexter GORDON

Dexter Blows Hot And Cool

BOPLICITY CDBOPM 006

 

 

1. Silver Plated

2. Cry Me A River

3. Rhythm Mad

4. Don’t Worry About Me

5. I Hear Music

6. Bonny Rue

7. I Should Care

8. Blowin’ For Dootsie

9. Tenderly

Dexter Gordon (tenor sax), Carl Perkins (piano), Leroy Vinnegar (bass), Chuck Thompson (drums), Jimmy Robinson (trumpet) [38:34]

 

I’ve long been a fan of Dexter Gordon so I was really pleased to receive this disc to review. A pioneer of bebop he emerged first in the 1940s and had amassed a considerable discography by the time the record Dexter Blows Hot And Cool was released in 1956. Born into a comfortably middle-class family his father was a well known doctor who as an avid jazz fan himself was pleased to number Duke Ellington and Lionel Hampton among his patients. Unlike many would-be musicians who have to battle parental disapproval to continue their dream Dexter received active encouragement from Dr. Frank Gordon, one of the very few negroes to run their own successful doctor’s practice in Los Angeles. Dexter’s father bought him a clarinet when he was only seven years old and paid for him to have lessons while Dexter earned money mowing lawns spending it on records he bought for 15 cents. As soon as he discovered Count Basie that really set his determination to succeed in jazz and he did his best to emulate Basie’s saxophonist the great Lester Young. What I particularly love about Dexter Gordon is the seemingly effortless way he plays.

The booklet reproduces press clippings from the time of the record’s release including one from Billboard magazine which contains a statement I find contentious “In this set they (his fans) will find him somewhat mellowed, making little attempt to impress either as a technician or melodic innovator.” It does go on however to point to a “quiet authority in his forthright, simply tailored style”. The point I think is that he didn’t need to set out to impress because he did so naturally with a wonderfully fluid style which to me is the very essence of ‘cool’.

The quintet has a wonderfully tight feel to it with each musician delivering some great solos. A good example of this comes along with Bonna Rue when trumpeter Jimmy Robinson solos before Dexter comes in to pick up the tune later handing it on to pianist Carl Perkins then bassist Leroy Vinnegar and drummer Chuck Thompson. Other highlights on a disc on which every track is fantastic are Silver Plated, Cry Me A River and Tenderly, with Silver Plated a good example of the ‘hot’ in the album title.

This disc is a gem and is a great document to have though I think that at less than 40 minutes fans have been short-changed; there are surely some other tracks around that could have been included as extras. To anyone who is a fan of this brilliant saxophonist and who hasn’t already got it I can recommend they seek out Proper Records (ProperBox 16) four disc set Settin’ the Pace charting his journey as bebop trailblazer over 55 tracks from 1943 to 1950. As was so often the case with jazz musicians, particularly in those days, he was another victim of drug addiction and this album was the first he had made for some considerable time yet his artistry still shone through as brightly as it ever did.

Steve Arloff



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