01. Blow Mr Dexter
02. Dexter's Deck
03. Dexter's Cuttin' Out
04. Dexter's Minor Mad
05. Long Tall Dexter
06. Dexter Rides Again
07. I Can't Escape From You
08. Dexter Digs In
09. Settin' The Pace
10. So Easy
11. Dexter's Riff
12. Dexter's Mood
This LP was originally posted back in the very earliest days of the blog. That post was subsequently deleted. The re-up includes new front and back cover scans as well as added label scans.
Six feet five inches tall Dexter Gordon was the first tenor sax player to play in the be bop style. Like many of his fellow be bop pioneers he received his musical grounding in the big swing bands. His career started to take off in his native Los Angeles, where in 1940 at the age of 17 he was recruited into the newly formed Lionel Hampton Orchestra. He stayed with the band until 1943, returning to LA where he joined a group led by drummer Lee Young. In 1944 he had spells with Fletcher Henderson and Louis Armstrong. In the autumn of that year he joined the bop inclined band of Billy Eckstine whose reed section boasted players of the calibre of Gene Ammons, Budd Johnson, John Jackson, Sonny Stitt and Leo Parker.
Dexter left the Eckstine band in 1945 and headed for New York where he joined a sextet led by Charlie Parker which also featured Miles Davis on trumpet and a changeable rhythm section with either Stan Levey or Max Roach on drums, Curley Russell on bass and Bud Powell or Sir Charles Thompson on piano. The first recording session featured on this LP took place in October 1945 while Dexter was still with the Parker outfit. (tracks 1-4, side 1)
Above: Charlie Parker Combo at the Spotlite Club, 52nd Street, NYC, October 1945. Bird out front, Miles on trumpet, Dex in shades.
For his October Savoy session, Dexter was backed by a rhythm section consisting of Argonne Thornton (Sadik Hakim) (piano), Gene Ramey (bass) and Eddie Nicholson (drums). For the second Savoy session in January 1946, Dexter was backed by a big name bebop rhythm section of Bud Powell (piano), Curley Russell (bass) and Max Roach (drums), all of whom had played in the Charlie Parker Combo. Also along was trumpeter Leonard Hawkins. (tracks 5-8, side 1).
Dexter quit New York in summer 1946. His first stop was Honolulu where he spent two months in Cee Pee Johnson's band and then he headed back home to Los Angeles where he was soon immersed in the burgeoning West Coast be bop scene. His next recordings were for Ross Russell's Dial label in June 1947, including the famous sax battle with Wardell Gray titled "The Chase."
A few weeks later Ralph Bass recorded Wardell and Dexter in a jam session at the Elks Auditorium in the Central Avenue area of LA. Among the personnel were stalwarts such as Howard McGhee, Sonny Criss, Trummy Young, Barney Kessel and Red Callender. Four of the recorded sides eventually made it to a 2LP set on Savoy - "The Hunt." This set, which was donated to Be Bop Wino by Billy K in November 2007, is nothing short of sensational. Bebop in the raw with no running time restrictions and recorded live in front of a rowdy audience.
Disorder At The Border
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On December 4th 1947 Dexter recorded another sax battle in LA for Dial, this time with Teddy Edwards - "The Duel, Parts 1 and 2." One week later Dexter was back in New York to record for Savoy (tracks 1-3, side 2), this time with Leo Parker on baritone sax and a rhythm section consisting of pianist / arranger Tadd Dameron, bassist Nelson Boyd and Art Blakey on drums. "Settin' The Pace" is yet another sax battle, with Dex and Leo facing off against each other. Dexter certainly had a penchant for reed-based combat as the aforementioned matches with Wardell Gray and Teddy Edwards show. In fact this went back to his Billy Eckstine days when he and Gene Ammons recorded their regular show-stopper "Blowing The Blues Away."
The final session on this LP was recorded on the 22nd December 1947 (tracks 4-7, side 2). The backing band once again featured pianist / arranger Tadd Dameron, this time along with a couple of members of his quintet which had recorded a few months earlier for Blue Note: Fats Navarro on trumpet and Nelson Boyd on bass. The lineup was completed with Art Mardigan on drums.
In January 1949 Dexter played in Tadd Dameron's Big Ten at the Royal Roost and recorded a couple of sides with this band for Capitol. Which brings us neatly to our next post and another 78 rip by El Enmascarado. In the meantime you can groove to these "Master Takes" and shout "Go! Go! Go!" while flipping your wig to "The Hunt."
Stay cool, boppers.