Dexter Gordon, Our Man In Paris (Rudy Van Gelder Edition)

Kevin Whitehead

By Kevin Whitehead

on 05.18.11 in Reviews

Our Man In Paris (Rudy Van Gelder Edition)

Dexter Gordon
Jazz’s most famous expat saxophonist

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.