"DEXTER GORDON LIVE IN '63 & '64"
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Jazz Icons presents its second series of legendary jazz performances filmed in stark black and white in Europe during the golden age of jazz, the 1950s and '60s.
The great Los Angeles-born tenor saxophonist Dexter Gordon is the first of seven jazz giants we will be reviewing for readers of The Skanner. Gordon performs in three separate gigs on this DVD. The first takes place in 1964 Holland. Gordon, backed by a superb rhythm section of pianist George Gruntz, bassist Guy Pedersen and drummer Daniel Humair introduces his first tune, a rousing up-tempo "Night in Tunisia." He is astoundingly strong, creating great phrasing over an extended stretch.
Disregard the lack of name familiarity of the rhythm section. They have traveled throughout Europe with Gordon and other famous American jazz players.
The ballad "What's New" follows and Gordon is as sensitive on this one as he was strong on the previous track. He pays tribute to Sonny Stitt in introducing Stitt's "Blues Walk." Gruntz more than holds his own with a scintillating solo as well as great accompaniment behind Gordon.
The next two tunes; "Second Balcony Jump" and "You've Changed" were filmed in Switzerland in 1963. Viewers will get to see and hear the remarkable Kenny Drew Sr. on piano, Gilbert Rovere on bass and the stellar drummer Arthur Taylor.
The scene shifts to Belgium for a 1964 concert with the same rhythm section. He opens with "Lady Bird" and follows with a truly epic version of "Body and Soul." While listening to "Body and Soul," it might be fun to take on the challenge of counting the musical quotes during his solos. It's Gordon's way of paying tribute to musicians he holds in high regard.
The film and its sound are first class. It is bright with its focus always on the musicians and their music. This is true gem for collectors.
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The revolution in the music continues and one of its leaders is trumpeter-innovator Wallace Roney.
Criticized by some for his close similarity to the late Miles Davis, here Roney provides a nine track example of what Davis could well be playing if he was still with us. So, it could be that Roney never really copied Davis, just thought in the same channels.
"Vater Time," the opener, brings together a catchy funky horn riff, very rhythmic bass work by Rashaan Carter, a bluesy piano solo by Robert Irving III for a very danceable tune.
"Un Poco Loco," a Bud Powell tune, is given an updated straight ahead treatment. Different rhythms, dense harmonies and the marginal use of DJ Axum and Val Jeanty, makes this release one to study to learn the music's future direction.
Dick Bogle hosts a weekly jazz radio show 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Mondays on KMHD 89.1 FM. He can be reached at email@example.com.