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Thursday 14 April 2016

Dexter Gordon - Master Takes / The Savoy Recordings (1945-1947)

Side 1:
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

Side 2:
09. Settin' The Pace
10. So Easy
11. Dexter's Riff
12. Dexter's Mood
13. Dextrose
14. Index
15. Dextivity

Download from:

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."

Above: Wardell and Dexter - "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.

Side 1:
Disorder At The Border
Side 2:
Side 3:
Side 4:
The Hunt

Download from here:

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.


hepcat said...

Many thanks!

boogiewoody said...

Hep music for a hepcat!

The Magnificent Goldberg said...

Thanks for this Woody.

Your regulars might like to know that the 4 December 1947 session with Wardell Gray was hosted by our old friend Wild Bill Moore, a couple of weeks before he recorded 'We gonna rock, we gonna roll', the success of which seems to have got him out of the bebop game.


boogiewoody said...

Thanks, Mr Magnificent.

I'd totally forgotten about the part played by Wild Bill Moore at the Hollywood Jazz Concert at the Elks Auditorium on July 6th, 1947.

Then after reading your comment I remembered that there was a track on the Savoy Jazz CD "Black California Volume 2 - Anthology" which was an extended live cut of Wild Bill with Gene Montgomery of "What Is This Thing Called Love." This was indeed from the same Elks Auditorium concert as "The Hunt."

A big problem with this CD is that the notes are shrunk down from the original LP issue and are therefore indecipherable without a magnifying glass. After much squinting through a small glass I learned that the CD also had another track by the Wardell Gray All Stars "Blow Blow Blow" from the same concert. As I said, the notes are pretty unreadable but I can make out a reference to other tracks from this concert being on other Savoy LPs including "Black California Volume 1" and "Long Tall Dexter."

The Blue Moon CD "Wild Bill Moore, The Complete Recordings Volume One" has 4 Wild Bill tracks from the Elks Auditorium concert - "Wild Bill Part 1", "Wild Bill Part 2", "Unfinished Bopera" and "What Is this Thing Called Love."

The Proper 4CD set "Dexter Gordon - Settin' The Pace" has the four Elks Auditorium tracks featured in "The Hunt" plus another track from the same concert, "After Hours Bop."

Excerpts from many of the Elks Auditorium concert tracks were released on 78 rpm singles on the Bop label.

Wild Bill recorded "We're Gonna Rock" for Savoy in Detroit on December 18th 1947. Also on the track were Paul Williams on baritone sax and T.J. Fowler on piano.

Many thanks for pointing me towards this stuff, Mr Magnifico! Looks like the Elks Auditorium Hollywood Jazz Concert bears much more investigation, perhaps with the aim of reconstructing the whole gig from the recordings made by Ralph Bass.


Man from Mordor said...

Grateful thanks for these magnificent pieces of jazz history. Long may you rock.

boogiewoody said...

Thanks Terry.

I've found out that there is already a 3CD set of the complete Elks Auditorium concert, called "Bopland." I've ordered a copy ... yet again the dangers of online buying after coming home from the pub.

Musrafak said...

Many thanks, Magnus

The Magnificent Goldberg said...

Hey, I never knew there was a 3 CD set of that concert. Phew! Would you care to post a link to where you can get it, Guv?


boogiewoody said...

I had a look on marketplace and there's a selection of suppliers offering copies at a reasonable price:

There's not so much of a choice on the US equivalent though. Some of the suppliers on the British amazon marketplace site are US based though.

There's also an interesting article on the concert which you can download in pdf form from here:

teddy cat baz said...

cheers boogiewoody

ricardo said...

great blog !
thank you very much for your generosity and good taste
best wishes

boogiewoody said...

Cheers, Ricardo! The blog is currently (March 2018) on a short Charlie Parker kick. Hope that is also to your taste!


Anonymous said...

thanks for the Master Takes album;
the comments also interesting.
Nice that the link is still active.
- Jay from the North.

neil said...

I'd appreciate it if you could cross-post this album at the Savoy blog, boogiewoody..