In This Issue
…..Dexter Gordon’s musical career has long been recognized and celebrated. As a young saxophonist, he held important chairs in the orchestras of Lionel Hampton, Fletcher Henderson, Louis Armstrong and Billy Eckstine, and, in the late 1940’s, was a groundbreaking force in Los Angeles’ Central Avenue jazz scene. His extensive recording career included albums on Savoy, Dial and, most famously, Blue Note, where, from 1961 to 1964, he made seven landmark records that are among the most revered of the hard bop era. While most were recorded in New York, some were made in Europe, where Gordon lived and worked from 1962 to 1976, when he returned to the United States permanently, becoming a Columbia Records artist as well as an Academy Award nominated “best actor” for his role in the 1986 film Round Midnight.
…..While Gordon became the picture of the hip jazz musician — as portrayed in Herman Leonard’s iconic 1948 photo that is the definition of “cool” — in Sophisticated Giant: The Life and Legacy of Dexter Gordon, author Maxine Gordon writes that this image of her late husband “fails to come to terms with a three-dimensional figure full of humor and wisdom, a man who struggled to reconcile being both a creative outsider who broke the rules and a comforting insider who was a son, father, husband, and world citizen.” Among Dexter’s struggles included the events of the entire decade of the 1950’s that he preferred not to divulge, as well as an intimate mid-1960’s friendship in Denmark that ended in tragedy.
…..Ms. Gordon’s book, begun in 1987 when Dexter was still alive, fills in these gaps within Dexter’s biography while reminding us of his essential and charismatic creative spirit. She joins us in an interview and discusses the complex life of this important and honored American artist. The post also includes a photo gallery featuring the photography of Blue Note co-founder Francis Wolff — an example of which is pictured here (courtesy of Mosaic Records) — and the poetry of Michael L. Newell.
…..Also in this issue…A new collection of jazz poetry; “On the Turntable,” a new playlist of 22 recommended recordings by seven jazz artists; three new “The Joys of Jazz” podcasts by Bob Hecht; a new “Great Encounters”; short fiction; the photography of Veryl Oakland and Charles Ingham; and lots more…