Wednesday, February 27, 2019

Let's Talk About Dex, Baby

We are gonna close out Black History Month and February with this here dual birthday/anniversary post about a musician who ought need no introduction.
It's rare that I get to do two in a row where it's a birthday show, but there's a first time for everything so here we go.
Today's b'day brahmin is maybe most accoladed for his ridiculously expansive, lush tenor tone, itself one of the most recognizable of any instrumentalist in history.
I've blogged him before, but never on his big day, so he's getting that treatment for what would have been #96 today.
Is there, or has there ever been, a more masterful tenor saxophonist than Dexter Gordon? You might say 'Trane, but he played multiple horns and arguably did his wildest voyaging on soprano.
Of course you know how the American Race Gulag got too much for him so he moved to Paris, essentially opening the floodgates for Jazz cats to make their way over to Europe where they would be treated with the reverence their artistry engendered. 
You know how he returned in the 1970s to a hero's welcome, and enjoyed a huge career renaissance that saw him finally get his due in his country of origin.
But do you know about this 60th birthday shindig that NPR broadcast back 30-something or so years ago, that finds our hero on the hallowed ground of the Village Vanguard, delivering the goods in a killer pair of sets?
I tidied this one up a little bit, so it would be at its optimal impact, but even before that this was two hours of prime illustration of what puts Dex among the starriest segments of the musical firmament.
The whole thing is beyond the beyond, but the version of As Time Goes By is inflected with a certain feeling way past what you might expect, even from a titan such as this.
Dexter Gordon Quartet
Village Vanguard
New York City, NY

Set I
01 Secret Love
02 As Time Goes By
03 Soy Califa
04 The Jumpin' Blues
05 LTD incl. band introductions

Set II
06 Hi-Fly
07 Body and Soul
08 Antabus
09 Long Tall Dexter incl. Dexter Gordon announcement

Total time: 1:52:26
disc break is the same as set break

Dexter Gordon - tenor saxophone 
Kirk Lightsey - piano 
David Eubanks - bass 
Eddie Gladden - drums

master off-air FM cassette of the Feb. 1987 NPR broadcast
tiny tweaks by EN, Feb. 2019
This is a criminally undercirculated performance I could find nowhere in trade circulation on the internet, and the idea that there's a bootleg CD of it in the stores and online right now from the excreble and thieving Hi-Hat "label" makes it all the sweeter to provide it here at no charge.
That's it for this month, did I pass the audition? I'll be back in March to fuck you all up with yet more jewels from the vaults, count on that.
Today you gotta get your Dex on, though, and celebrate this toppermost Maestro with this unbelievably beautiful and heartfelt concert from the day he turned 60!--J.
2.27.1923 - 4.25.1990