VOICES Notes and news on Jazz releases
21 MAY 10 CHRIS SLAWECKI
Many jazz fans and historians seem to group saxophonists across the great Charlie Parker divide -- gliding saxophonists who played music made for dancing in swing era big bands before Bird, and bebop explorers who advanced more fractured modern music thereafter. But, Dexter Gordon (1923-1990) was one of the few saxophonists who could play both ways, and nurtured components of the jazz swing/dance tradition and Parker's fierce anti-tradition to grow into his own jazz voice. From the mid-'60s through the mid-'70s, "Long Tall Dexter" recorded more than a dozen titles for Prestige, all of which were compiled and remastered into 2004's exhaustive The Complete Prestige Recordings box set.
Pick just about any modern jazz style or sound and you'll find it among the 88 tracks (17 previously unissued) on these 11 discs: Blowing the hot yet cool West Coast winds of LA's Central Avenue with Wardell Gray in "Move" to open this set; shredding the blues abstractions of Thelonious Monk's "Rhythm-A-Ning," in multiple studio and onstage takes; luxuriating subtly behind the beat in "In A Sentimental Mood," Jobim's "Meditation" and other foamy ballads; and roaring with Gene Ammons in "'Treaux Blue," the old-school tenor battle that closes this set.
Individual titles which comprise Gordon's Complete Prestige include XXL: Live At The Left Bank (recorded 1969, released 1998), The Jumpin' Blues (1970, '96); Setting The Pace, a towering twin-tenor session with Booker Ervin (1965, '93); and Generation, one of several frontline pairings with Freddie Hubbard ('72, '95).