Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Dexter Gordon - The Complete Columbia Recordings (Sony/Popmarket, 2011)

Like so many of his other colleagues, the famous saxophonist Dexter Gordon moved to Europe in the 1960’s and 1970’s for greater performing and recording opportunities and less racial strife than he found in the United States. But he longed to return to his native country, and did so in great style, signing to Columbia Records and recording a number of albums in the late 70’s and early ‘80’s. The albums included on this limited edition boxed set include: Homecoming: Live At The Village Vanguard, Sophisticated Giant, Manhattan Symphonie, Live At Carnegie Hall, Gotham City and a compilation disc of bonus material. Gordon was playing as well as he ever had with quicksilver grace on the cooker and a lush romanticism on the ballads. At his best playing live, Gordon had a killer band on the double album Homecoming featuring Woody Shaw on trumpet, Ronnie Matthews on piano, Stafford James on bass and Louis Haynes on drums. The concert from the venerable Carnegie Hall also features special guest saxophonist Johnny Griffin for a couple of exciting mock-tenor battles. Hot on the heels of the Homecoming gigs, Gordon went into the studio with pianist George Cables, bassist Rufus Reid, and drummer Eddie Gladden to record Manhattan Symphonie. The interesting material on this album includes John Coltrane’s “Moment’s Notice,” Donald Byrd’s “Tanya” and an excellent version of the standard “Body and Soul.” The bonus disc tracks together some odds and ends that were included in holiday themed albums and compilations. Each album comes in a cardboard slipcase replica of the original album cover and there are some extra liner essays and a discography. This is a nicely done collection, definitely geared toward the collector market, but if you are a fan of Gordon’s music is is certainly an investment worth considering. Complete Columbia Recordings - Popmarket.

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