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Dexter Gordon ( February 27, Los AngelesPhiladelphia1923 - april 25, 1990) was an American tenor saxophone player. He is considered one of the first bebop tenor saxophonists. From 1948 on a dating photo, taken during a performance at The Royal Roost, he is depicted as he smokes a cigarette. This picture would later became one of the icons in the history of jazz. Gordon was a great man of more than 1 m 90, hence his nickname Long Tall Dexter. In 1986 he was nominated for an Oscar for his role in the film Round Midnight.

Life and work[Edit]Edit

Gordon was born and grew up in Los Angeles. His father was a doctor and had Duke Ellington and Lionel Hampton as a patient. Dexter learned to play clarinet at the age of 13, before he passed two years later on saxophone (first alt, then tenor). He was still at school when he played with orchestras already in contemporaries as Chico Hamilton and Buddy Collette.

Between 1940 and 1943, Gordon was a member of Lionel Hamptons Orchestra, where, together with Illinois Jacquet and Marshall Royal in the saxophone section. He made his first recordings under his own name in 1943, alongside Nat Cole and Harry Edison. He also made guest appearances with the orchestras of Louis Armstrong andFletcher Henderson before he went to work at Billie Eckstine .

In 1945 he left the Eckstine Orchestra and began performing in New York, where he recorded with Charlie Parker as well as recordings under his own name.

Gordon was best known as a virtuoso by its saxofoonduels with his friend and tenor saxophonist Wardell Gray. These duels were given a lot of interest and left traces in several albums between 1947 and 1952.

Dexter Gordon's live performance in Amsterdam in 1980 shows the audience a tenor saxophonist whose wide and spatial sound sounds, partly due to his impressive physique. Also his tendency to just slightly after the beat to play is remarkable.

As one of his main influences he mentions Lester Young. He in turn influenced the younger John Coltrane in the 1940s and 1950s. Between the two tenor saxophonists, incidentally, is a clear interaction. Coltrane's way of playing would be affect from the mid-1950s also Dexter Gordon. Apparent agreements between their respective playing styles are: clear, strong, metallic tones, their tendency to bend up to high notes and their skill to short to let articulated with the tongue nuts swinging. One of Gordon's peculiarities was to first to sing a song before the play, a trick that he had learned of Lester Young.


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