Tuesday, 4 June 2019

Dexter Gordon

Our Man In Paris (1963)

Scrapple From The Apple/Willow Weep For Me/Broadway/Stairway To The Stars/A Night In Tunisia/Our Love Is Here To Stay/Like Someone In Love            
As with all my jazz reviews, I have to state firmly at the outset that I am certainly no jazz expert. I have several albums and every now and again I have a jazz session. When I do, I really enjoy it. The sound quality is invariably mind-boggling in its quality. Just listen to the clarity and stereo separation on this 1963 recording. Compare that to rock/pop recordings from the same era. The difference is seismic.

Dexter Gordon was a master tenor saxophonist. The tenor was to this sort of lively, "bop" jazz what the electric guitar was to rock. Allied with piano, stand up bass and solid cymbal/brush work on the drums you have the classic jazz line up for this particular genre. This album found Gordon living in Paris and his foursome included two other US expatriates - Bud Powell on piano, Kenny "Klook" Clarke on drums and Frenchman Pierre Michelot on bass. The album was very evocative of sixties Paris in its carefree, lively and ebullient "bop", particularly as exemplified on the opening track, the highly enjoyable Scrapple From The Apple

Willow Weep For Me is a slower, more stately piano-driven number, featuring some solid bass passages from Michelot, including a great solo around seven minutes in. Gordon doesn't feature as much but when he kicks in, particularly near the end, it is captivating.

Broadway is full on, upbeat "bop" improvisation. The players just seem to have this almost telepathic understanding with each other at times. In many ways, this is what you think of from this genre of jazz. Also, as on many jazz tracks, you can faintly hear the players half chuntering along with the rhythm as they play, counting runs in. 

Stairway To The Stars is laid-back, romantic and simply gorgeous in places. Gordon's saxophone is sublime. If you want an example of classic jazz, from my limited knowledge, I think this is a good pick.

Night In Tunisia is, I think, quite well known. It is catchy, toe-tapping, melodic and rhythmic. There is certainly an upbeat liveliness to a great deal of this album. It could function just as well as morning album as well as the late night one that so many jazz recordings can be. There is some sumptuous piano on this track, too. 

Our Love Is Here To Stay is another energetic number, while the closer, Like Someone In Lovestarts with some slow piano before effortlessly finding another mid-pace groove. Another recommended jazz album.

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