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Bebop Spoken There

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13,508 (and counting) posts since we started blogging 13 years ago. 926 of them this year alone and, so far, 90 this month (July 27).

Friday, April 17, 2020

Tonight's Blue Note: Dexter Gordon - Go

Dexter Gordon (tenor sax); Sonny Clark (piano); Butch Warren (bass); Billy Higgins (drums).

For me, this is the jewel in the crown when it comes to the Blue Note discography. Of all the recordings Dexter Gordon made for the label - and they are all great - for me, this is the one!

Just about every other tenor player, these days, calls out Cheesecake at a jam and so  they should, they're paying tribute to the master. This is one of the all-time classic tenor saxophone recordings.

Just as Sinatra laid down the definitive vocal performance of I Guess I'll Hang My Tears Out to Dry so does Dexter rubber stamp it with a similar emotional benchmark. 

Second Balcony Jump swings like the proverbial with  Mona Lisa and My Heart Stood Still quotes inserted along the way. Dexter was a great one for the quote! Humour too as the missing final note proves!

Love For Sale switches from a Latin beat to the swinging tempo that always brings out the best in the Cole Porter tune.

Once again a plaintive song associated with Sinatra has the tenor saxist in a melancholy mood. Listening to Where Are You I get the feeling he isn't thinking of melodies or chords but that the words of the song are uppermost in his mind as he explores the Jimmy McHugh/Harold Adamson saga of lost romance.

Three O' Clock in the Morning rounds off the album. Dexter's big round sound, his angular phrases the sheer logic of his solos make him as much a musical giant as he was a physical one - they didn't call him Long Tall Dexter because he was a midget!

His fellow travellers are also musical giants and feature on many other Blue Note albums. Sonny Clark was to the Blue Note piano roster of the day what Joe Di Maggio was to baseball although, as far as we know, Sonny didn't get around to making it with Ms. Monroe.

The album liner notes are by the late great Ira Gitler whose final paragraph reads, "Meanwhile, proceed directly to Go! You won't collect $200,000, but you will get a monopoly of Melody Avenue, Swing Street and Inspiration Place". That man had a turn of phrase few jazz scribes of the time (1962) could match.
Lance

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