Jazz's most famous expat saxophonist didn't live in Paris in 1963 — he'd already settled in Copenhagen — but dropped by to rendezvous and stretch out with fellow exiles and founding beboppers, pianist Bud Powell and drummer Kenny Clarke. (Parisian Pierre Michelot's on bass. Bud isn't the fleet-fingered soloist of old, but he's solid in support.) Gordon was a tall man with a gravely comic manner, and his musical persona was likewise outsized and playful; his big meaty, greasy tenor tone still bore traces of L.A. in the '40s and the birth of R&B. On "Scrapple from the Apple," Dex's teasing phrases and artful quotations peg him as a seriously resourceful improviser who doesn't take himself so seriously, and his declamatory soloing on "Stairway to the Stars" shows why Coltrane dug his playing. Clarke's heavy ride-cymbal beat lashes Gordon through "Willow Weep for Me," as he purges that often maudlin tune of self-pity.
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