Dexter Gordon

Dexter Gordon ( born February 27, 1923 in Los Angeles, California, † April 25, 1990 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania) was an American tenor saxophonist.


Dexter Gordon is seen as the first significant hard bop saxophonist. 1940 began his career in the band of Lionel Hampton, where he remained until 1942. After brief appearances along with the Fletcher Henderson Orchestra and Louis Armstrong in 1944, he moved to New York, where he played in the big band of Billy Eckstine. At twenty, he took the first time under his own name ( " I've Found A New Baby " / " Sweet Lorraine " for Mercury ); his teammates were Harry Sweets Edison and Nat King Cole. 1945 made ​​recordings with Sir Charles Thompson's All Stars with Charlie Parker and his first recordings for Savoy, which his compositions " Dexter's Cuttin ' Out" and " Dexter's Minor Mad " published (later called the LP Long Tall Dexter ). In January 1946, he took with Bud Powell, Curly Russell and Max Roach ( "I Can not Escape From You" / "Dexter Digs In"); In 1947 he had a quintet with Teddy Edwards, with whom he recorded for Dial Records. On these recordings, which are among the most important of his career, had also Melba Liston, Jimmy Rowles and Red Callender with. In the following years he played with various musicians, both on the East as well as the west coast (eg with Dizzy Gillespie ). A special live attraction were especially the saxophone duels with his colleagues Wardell Gray ( " The Chase " ) and Gene Ammons ( " Blowing the Blues Away " in Billy Eckstine band ), which have been immortalized in numerous panels 1947-1952. In 1950 he accompanied the singer Helen Humes.

In the 1950s, his drug addiction was rife that he only got back together in 1960. In 1954 he was involved as a composer, musician and actor at the theater play The Connection, a production of " Living Theatre " at the Jackie McLean participated. In 1955 he joined with Conte Candoli, Frank Rosolino, Kenny Drew on Bethlehem Records. In addition, he was a large part of the decade in prison for possession of heroin.

In October 1960, Gordon was the first time the opportunity to recordings; for Jazzland The Resurgence of Dexter Gordon was with local musicians from LA to Larance Marable. In 1961, he then had a comeback with some successful Blue Note recordings as doin 'alright with Freddie Hubbard and Go! with Sonny Clark. He also appeared briefly in New York (which he saw again the first time in 12 years ), then let himself but after the success of a European tour in 1962 settled in Paris ( not least because of liberal drug laws), where he and other exiled American musicians worked. From the 1960s comes many remarkable Blue Note recordings, such as Our Man in Paris in 1963 with Bud Powell and the drummer Kenny Clarke or Gettin 'Around with Bobby Hutcherson and Barry Harris.

In the late 1960s moved on to Copenhagen Gordon. His presence had a decisive influence on the development of the Danish jazz scene. He played with local musicians including bassist Niels -Henning Ørsted Pedersen and played until the mid- 1970s a number of sought-after albums for the Danish label Steeplechase one, besides also for prestige with his occasional visits to the United States, such as the 1970 with Tommy Flanagan rehearsed album The Panthers!. In 1972 he worked with the George Gruntz Concert Jazz Band and with Thad Jones ( Ca'Purange ). 1976 Dexter Gordon returned back to New York. His performance at the Village Vanguard was a triumph (Album Homecoming ). In 1978, he appeared with Johnny Griffin on in New York's Carnegie Hall.

In 1986, he had the lead role of Dale Turner in Bertrand Tavernier's film at midnight ( Round Midnight ), the Bud Powell and Lester Young was dedicated. Despite this, the story of the film also similarities with Dexter Gordon's own biography. For the role he was nominated for an Oscar. The performance in Round Midnight was his third film appearance. He had his first, something strange appearance as he did time for possession of heroin in prison. In the movie, Unchained he played a prison population that is a member of a prison band. The soundtrack for this was later, however, a new soundtrack. In 1990, he starred in the Penny Marshall film Awakenings alongside Robert De Niro and Robin Williams a comatose patient.

For the soundtrack of the film Round Midnight Gordon played with Wayne Shorter, Bobby Hutcherson, Herbie Hancock, John McLaughlin, Pierre Michelot, and Billy Higgins. 1987 Dexter Gordon's last recordings originated at the Chicago Jazz Festival and with the singer Tony Bennett

From the American jazz magazine Down Beat, he was elected in 1978 and 1980 Musician of the Year.

Dexter Gordon's sound was bulky and supple with a tendency slightly "back" - that is, behind the beat - to play. He by Lester Young had one of his biggest influences. He was never revolutionary as Charlie Parker and John Coltrane as progressive, but many musicians influenced his game. An endearing Tick Gordon was to recite the text before playing a jazz standards first.

Due to his height of 1.96 m, it was nicknamed Long Tall Dex.


  • Dexter Gordon on Dial; The Complete Recordings ( Spotlite, 1947)
  • Doin ' Alright (1961, Blue Note Records)
  • Dexter Calling (1961, Blue Note )
  • GO! (1962, Blue Note )
  • A Swingin ' Affair (1962, Blue Note )
  • Our Man in Paris (1963, Blue Note )
  • One Flight Up (1964, Blue Note )
  • More than You Know ( Steeplechase, 1975)
  • Homecoming ( 1976) ( Live at the Village Vanguard )
  • The Other Side Of Round Midnight ( Blue Note )