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Dexter Gordon

 

 

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        Dexter Gordon was, quite literally, one of the giants of jazz - he stood 6'6" tall.  He is considered by many to be the first tenor sax player to adapt Lester Young's style to the bebop style. However, his sound came from swing, as he did stints in Lionel Hampton, Louis Armstrong, and Billy Eckstine's big bands.  While he was influenced by Young, his sound was much heavier, harder tone than Young or Young's disciples.  Gordon managed to fuse the styles of Young, Coleman Hawkins, and Charlie Parker into a viable BeBop tenor style, and his style influenced Sonny Rollins and Stan Getz and was a primary influence of John Coltrane's.

        Besides being one of the sharper dressers amongst the boppers, Gordon also incorporated one of the unfortunate part of the bop lifestyle as well, as he developed a heroin addiction and spent a large part of the 50s in jail.  He returned stronger than ever, however, and made a series of records with Blue Note in the 60s.  He moved to Copenhagen, where he spent most of the 60s and 70s, but returned in 1976 for another successful comeback.

        Near the end of his life, Gordon played the lead role in the movie Round Midnight (excellent movie, by the way) and received an Oscar nomination for best actor.  He also played a small part in the movie Awakenings.   He died in 1989.  Gordon is one of my favorite tenor sax players because I find his music to be very happy and has a hop to it.  He also plays wonderful ballads.


To learn more about Dexter Gordon visit these sites:

Dexter Gordon - A Fan's tribute
Dexter Gordon - Another fan's tribute
Dexter Gordon - from Blue Note Records

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