Dexter Gordon ‘Go’/’A swingin’ Affair’ (Poll Winners) 5/5

If you have ever viewed the Bertrand Tavernier film ‘Round Midnight’, you are sure to have been impressed by the main protagonist Dale Gordon, played in real life by the late Dexter Gordon who was a totally convincing actor in the role. This introduced many new devotees of jazz during the mid-1980s jazz renaissance to the tenor saxophonist’s work and if you have ever wanted to know where to start off with his discography, this is now the first place of reference. Two classic albums are handily placed onto one CD that features Gordon in his mature prime period after struggling with drug addiction throughout the 1950s. By 1961 he had signed with the legendary Blue Note label and the two albums that are contained herein feature identical quartet sessions that stretch over three days in August (?) 1962 with the notable inclusion of Sonny Clark on piano. Of the two, ‘Go’ is regarded by many as Gordon’s ultimate musical statement and justifiably so. The ensemble playing is quite simply stupendous and the selection of material ideally suited to the deeply melodic approach that Dexter Gordon personified. It would be difficult to pick out individual numbers from such an outstanding release, but the title track, and a swinging ‘Love for sale’ are immediate standouts. The follow up, ‘A Swingin’ Affair’ is, in its title at least, a gentle nod to the music and style of Frank Sinatra. However, this is a resolutely modern 1960s recording with a Latin undercurrent to the magnficent ‘Soy Califa’ while there is a lovely original composition in ‘McSplivens’. Once again the ballads are of the highest order with ‘Don’t explain’ being a heartwarming tribute to Billie Holiday. No extras, but no none are needed when music is this sublime. Tim Stenhouse

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