Saturday, July 16, 2022

Dexter Gordon - "Gettin' Around" - The Blue Note Years Part 8

 © Copyright ® Steven Cerra, copyright protected; all rights reserved.

“Dexter Gordon is. ol course, the man who first created an authentic bebop style on the tenor saxophone He is also the man who profoundly influenced young John Coltrane (the roots of what became Coltrane's characteristic modality are plainly evident in Dexter's unusual and very personal harmonic accents) and, to a lesser but still significant degree, Sonny Rollins But above and beyond such historical credits. Dexter Gordon is one of the great players in Jazz, a man who makes music that is vital, direct and emotionally satisfying.”

- Dan Morgenstern

Although Dexter Gordon stopped recording for Blue Note after 1965, his relationship with the label didn’t end there as unissued tracks from his 1961 - 1965 contract period found their way into three new Blue Note recordings: 1967, Gettin’ Around [BST-84204]; 1979, Clubhouse [LT 989]; 1980 Landslide [LT-1051]. All three of the latter have been reissued on CD, both domestically and as Japanese imports. Perhaps one can conjecture that the latter two Blue Note albums were released to coincide with his triumphant return to the USA following a 14-year residency in Denmark.

The first of these - Gettin’ Around [CDP 7 46681 2] - was made up of tracks that were recorded in New York on May 28/29, 1965 and feature of group of [then] rising young stars: Bobby Hutcherson [vibes], Barry Harris [piano], Bob Cranshaw [bass] and Billy Higgins [drums].

Hutcherson’s appearance on these dates was particularly noteworthy as can be discerned in the following review by Richard Cook and Brian Morton in their The Penguin Guide to Jazz on CD, 6th Ed.

“One of the most engaging of Gordon's Blue Note recordings, Gettin' Around is also a showcase for the burgeoning talent of Bobby Hutcherson. Though the charts are relatively scant and unchallenging, the standard of performance is very high; Bobby's starburst patterns, executed round Harris's quiet and definite comping, are full of detail and excitement. The material is fairly basic and familiar, with just three Gordon compositions - not much more than blowing themes - tucked away at the end of the album. 'Manha deCarnaval' gets the record off to a breezy start, and the ensembles here are worthy of study; clean-lined, joyous and absolutely exact, yet with the spontaneity of a first take. Frank Foster's 'Shiny Stockings' was a favourite of the time with tenor players, and Dexter milks it enthusiastically.”

Ira Gitler is back to do the liner note honors for Gettin' Around and he offers the following information and insights:

“SINCE 1962 Dexter Gordon has been living in Europe. He has played all over the Continent but his European home has been Copenhagen, and that city's Club Montmartre his main base of operations. We in the United States have not lost contact with him, however, for several reasons. There have been Blue Note albums like Our Man In Paris (BN LP 4146) and One Flight Up ( BN LP 4176), recorded overseas but released internationally. 

Then each year at Christmas, Dexter sends his friends unique, personal holiday greetings. Last year's read, "Santa says, 'Make Glad The Heart'"; the 1965 message was "Santa says; 'Spreading joy in the neighborhood is easy to do and it feels so good!' Somehow you get the idea that Santa in this case is really Dex himself. The feeling that his playing imparts certainly is substantiating evidence.

At the end of 1964 Gordon visited the United States, played engagements on both coasts and in Chicago, and before returning to Europe in June 1965, left us with an LP that makes "glad the heart" and helps to "spread joy in the neighborhood!' He is supported by vibist Bobby Hutcherson, pianist Barry Harris, bassist Bob Cranshaw and drummer Billy Higgings. Support is quite the right word for although Hutcherson and Harris contribute solos, Gordon is the main man here. The others' solos are the condiments for Dex’s longer, meatier statements.

Side 1 is made up of two fairly recent popular songs and one tune that goes back quite a bit farther. Gordon's version of Luis Bonfa's Manha de Carnaval (Morning of the Carnival) from Black Orpheus is a bit slower than this bossa nova is usually played. Dex's sensual, expansive sound and languorous delivery immediately create a cloud to sink into and float on.Talk about being relaxed.

Gordon caresses Anthony Newley's Who Can I Turn To (not to be confused with Alec Wilder's song of the same title) as if he is holding a beautiful woman in his arms. His interplay with Hutcherson after Bobby picks up the melody statement is particularly moving.

On the old hit thatTed Weems mode famous, Heartaches, Dexter demonstrates how a great professional can insinuate a whole feeling just in the way he states the melody. He prepares you in definite but subtle ways for the harder swinging that is to come. The tempo is not that fast but Gordon can generate power at any speed. Hutcherson, showing his earlier Milt Jackson influence, and Harris have short but sweet solos before Dex returns with a clever quasi-quote from Deep In The Heart Of Texas - he has wit to match his heart - and brings everything to a climax with a dancing, delayed ending. Where Elmo Tanner whistled with Weems, Gordon wails with urbane heat.

Side 2 opens with an original by another fine contemporary tenor saxophonist, Frank Foster, While he was a member of the Count Basie orchestra Foster wrote Shiny Stockings and it has become a favorite of many modern musicians. (Pianist Jaki Byard uses it as his theme song.) The groove is an easy-swinging one here with Gordon, Hutcherson and Harris taking a chorus apiece. Dexter doing a reprise, and then out. There is absolutely no strain either in the playing or the listening.

Everybody's Somebody's Fool is a "blues ballad popularized by the first name band that Gordon ever worked with - Lionel Hampton - although it was first recorded in 1949, several years after he had left Hamp. Gordon strikes a wistful, late-hour mood, again bringing his beautiful tone into full play. Harris contributes an appropriately dreamy interlude. When he returns, Dexter makes a reference to Don't Explain - perhaps by design, or by accident.

Dexter's only written contribution to the session is a light, bouncy line called Le Coiffeur* (The Hairdresser). I wonder if he had someone specific in mind when he wrote this, To open his improvisation Gordon makes obvious but effective use of the written line and proceeds to employ rhythmic figures that echo the piece's structure.This adds a sense of unity to the whole track and Hutcherson and Harris stay with the character that has been established.

I think it is evident that the supporting cast was with Dexter all the way in this album. He set the tone and they fell right in with him. Since he is an expatriate it is not often that the New York-based musicians receive a chance to play in his company. Gordon's charm and musical inspiration make his company both delightful and stimulating. With albums such as this Santa Dex is able to disseminate his Christmas messages all year long.”


*Very Saxily Yours [ a phrase Dexter uses to close his letters] and Flick of a Trick are two other originals brought to the date and these are included on the CD reissue and the boxed set.

Dan Morgenstern Sessions Notes from the Boxed Set Booklet -

(K) MAY 28,1965

Just a day later, with the same rhythm team, but vibist Bobby Hutcherson taking Hubbard's place. Born in Los Angeles in 1941, Hutcherson became interested in jazz at 15 when he heard Milt Jackson on "Bemsha Swing." He bought a set of vibes, got some musical instruction from pianist Terry Trotter, and vibes pointers from Dave Pike. Work with Charles Lloyd and Curtis Amy preceded his 1 962 arrival in New York with the Billy Mitchell-Al Grey group; In 1963, he joined Jackie McLean's quintet with Grachan Moncur and Tony Williams, recording "One Step Beyond" for Blue Note. He became an important regular at the label, recording with everyone from John Patton to Joe Henderson to Eric Dolphy and Andrew Hill. A master musician, he recorded on his own for the label for more than 20 years.

LE COIFFEUR is a relaxed, playful Dexter original with a French flavor. The tenor-vibes unison works well on the theme statement. Dexter's solo starts with a break that quotes from the theme; he's in a laid-back mood. Hutcherson offers a melodic chorus, and Harris makes a lot happen in his 32 bars.

MANHA DE CARNAVAL was one of the first bossa nova hits, via the film "Black Orpheus." Dexter takes Luis Bonfa's catchy theme slightly slower than the customary—a very deliberate tempo. Tenor and vibes unison again works well. After Dexter's two plaintive choruses, an interlude sets up Hutcherson, who seems very much at home with the tune, and the interlude is repeated to launch Harris. He starts with a single-note line in the bass, adds harmony, and ends with a vamp—a lucid statement.

FLICK OF A TRICK, another Ben Tucker blues, this time at a slower tempo, is highlighted by Dexter's long sermon —he can preach a while! Barry also is deep into the blues, and Hutcherson, his approach to the blues not surprisingly touched by Bags', does some special tremolo things. A straightforward Cranshaw solo precedes the fade out of the theme. This remained in the can until the 1988 CD release of the album.

EVERYBODY'S SOMEBODY'S FOOL was introduced by Little Jimmy Scott on a Lionel Hampton record in 1950 and remained in the singer's

(L) MAY 29,1965

The same cast was reassembled for Dexter's third consecutive day of recording. There would have been no reason to change it since everything was going down muy simpatico.

Onzy Matthews' VERY SAXILY YOURS had been attempted the day before but comes off well here, though it wasn't issued at the time. Dexter starts his solo with a Yankee Doodle break; he's inventive and rocks in rhythm. Bobby and Barry split one, and Dexter takes over the final bridge.

SHINY STOCKINGS, Frank Foster's classic, is taken a hair slower than Count Basie's chosen tempo. Dexter again launches himself with a break, sure footedly. There are pleasant contributions from vibes and piano, and then Dexter takes another helping, enjoying the changes. The opening eight of this piece fit the standard "I Wish I Knew," but the rest is all original.

WHO CAN I TURN TO, the big hit from Anthony Newley's score to ”The Roar Of The Greasepaint—The Smell of the Crowd," was less than a year old when Dexter tackled it. A nice opening—Dexter, rubato, with just Barry, then the others joining in tempo. That tempo is s-l-o-w, but Dex keeps it out by himself, fashioning a fine finale.

HEARTACHES, a 1931 chestnut by Al Hoffman, introduced by Guy Lombardo and resurrected and turned into a hit by Ted Weems (with Elmo Tanner's whistling) in 1947 (he'd also waxed it in 1933,) may seem a surprising choice for Dexter, but he may have encountered the 1961 hit version by the Marcels, or simply liked the non-AABA structure and easy melody, characteristics that lend themselves to the bossa nova treatment he gives it. He comes in swinging after the vamp intro — debonaire, and again breaks into his solo, and again uses the break device for his second chorus. By the third, you can tell he enjoys the melodic-harmonic and rhythmic motion. Hutcherson's turn is underscored by Higgins' punctuations, and for Harris, Hig comes up with rimshots on the afterbeat. Dexter's re-entry is humorous, and then he tags it a la Stitt, getting his kicks and giving us ours, like he always did.”


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