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Bebop Spoken There

Gary Burton: "I haven't practiced vibraphone since high school." (Jazzwise March 2019).

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Today Monday February 18

Afternoon

Jazz

Jazz in the Afternoon - Cullercoats Crescent Club, 1 Hudleston, Cullercoats NE30 4QS. Tel: 0191 253 0242. 1:00pm. Free.

Evening

Dean Stockdale Trio - Beaumont Hotel, Beaumont St, Hexham NE46 3LT. Tel: 01434 6022331. 7:00pm. Free. Stockdale; Giles Strong; Mick Shoulder.

To the best of our knowledge, details of the above events are correct but may be subject to alteration.

Wednesday, November 21, 2018

Book Review: Maxine Gordon - Sophisticated Giant.

There have been innumerable books written about our music (I've got three shelves full and that is but the tip of the iceberg) so, when I say that this is essential reading for anyone interested in modern jazz from the late thirties on, you'd better believe it!

More than a biography and not quite an autobiography, Maxine, Gordon's widow from his last marriage and mother of trumpet player Woody Shaw's son*, manages to successfully incorporate the great saxophonist's own handwritten memories of his life along with her own reminiscences and those of his contemporaries. Not just musicians such as Jimmy Heath and Sonny Rollins but also Alfred Lyons and Francis Wolfe who recorded the wonderful Blue Note albums by Dexter that set the standard for pre-Coltrane tenor playing.

Dexter recalls his early days with the big bands of Hamp and Satchmo. Central Avenue, and the tenor battles with Wardell Gray. His sojourn in prison after being busted. Information on his sparsely documented life in Copenhagen and his Oscar nomination for his role in the film 'Round Midnight. These are taken from handwritten notes the great man wrote and were collated into the author's narrative along with her own memories.

His drug addiction is neither dramatised, glamourised or glossed over. The author did her own research (Dexter refused to write in any detail about what he called his 'lost decade' - the 1950s) and tells it as she saw it. The love between them is never allowed to surface but is ever-present. I think readers would have liked a little more depth to their relationship.

I didn't want the book to end, I didn't want Dexter to die and I give thanks that I saw him in concert at Newcastle in the early 1980s (?) whilst wishing that I'd been able to go backstage and meet him even if it was just to shake hands or say hello and maybe tell him that, over the years, I've bought so many of his albums and loved them all.

Dexter and Wardell were, and still are, my all-time tenor heroes. From the early Savoy sessions, via the Blue Notes, to the most recently released Fried Bananas. I wouldn't be without any one of them. This book will sit proudly on my shelves - but it won't be gathering dust...

The final paragraph: As Dexter had insisted so often, "My life has a happy ending" had the tears forming at the back of my eyes.
Thank you Maxine.
Lance.

PS: It's the time of year when we drop hints to avoid embarrassing gestures of Christmas bonhomie - like, I've got plenty of socks, shirts and plonk - from well-meaning friends. So, tell your own true love that, this year, you don't want any more partridges in a pear tree, lords a-leaping or even five golden rings. No, what you want for Christmas this year is (apart from him/her) a Sophisticated Giant.

*Maxine mentions, almost casually, that she was in a relationship with Woody Shaw yet there is no mention as to how that finished and the Dexter romance began and led to their marriage. It must have been amicable as her son, Woody Louis Armstrong Shaw III, provides a loving afterward to the book.

Maxine Gordon: A Sophisticated Giant - The Life and Legacy of Dexter Gordon. 2018, The University of California Press. ISBN 978-0-520-28064-9.

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Bebop Spoken Here -- Here, being the north-east of England -- centred in the blues heartland of Newcastle and reaching down to the Tees Delta and looking upwards to the Land of the Kilt.
Not a very original title, I know; not even an accurate one as my taste, whilst centred around the music of Bird and Diz, extends in many directions and I listen to everything from King Oliver to Chick Corea and beyond. Not forgetting the Great American Songbook the contents of which has provided the inspiration for much great jazz and quality popular singing for round about a century.
The idea of this blog is for you to share your thoughts and pass on your comments on discs, gigs, jazz - music in general. If you've been to a gig/concert or heard a CD that knocked you sideways please share your views with us. Tell us about your favourites, your memories, your dislikes.
Lance (Who wishes it to be known that he is not responsible for postings other than his own and that he's not always responsible for them.)
Contact: lanceliddle@gmail.com I look forward to hearing from you.

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Whilst we appreciate the many emails, texts, messages and other communications we receive requesting album/gig reviews on BSH, regrettably, we are unable to reply to all of them other than those we are able to answer with a positive response.
Similarly, CDs received by post will only be considered if accompanied by sufficient background material.
Finally, bear in mind that this is a jazz-based site when submitting your album.
Lance