Dexter Gordon (featuring Leo Parker): Dexter's Riff
Dexter Gordon (tenor sax)
Dexter Rides Again (Savoy MG 12130)
Composed by Dexter Gordon.
Recorded: New York, December 11, 1947
Rating: 86/100 (learn more)
Performing with Billy Eckstine, Dizzy Gillespie, and Illinois Jacquet in the 1940s, Leo Parker looked to be prepping for a leading spot in the evolution of the modern baritone saxophone, but a drug habit halted his progress. Nonetheless, this defining track features extended trading between the gritty, rhythm-and-blues-infused Parker and the big-toned tenor legend-to-be Dexter Gordon. Both young guns are overflowing with (borderline sloppy) energy here, and the matchless rhythm section of Dameron, Russell and Blakey is simpatico to the proto-hard bop that these men were experimenting with. Note Parker's amalgamation of brief, bluesy riffs, longer bebop lines, and repeated single-note runs throughout his solo – all of which have come to spell out the modern baritone saxophone vocabulary.
Editor's Note: Lest anyone surmise that the cover photo of Dexter Rides Again scooped Sonny Rollins's Way Out West as the earliest image of a jazz tenorman posed as a cowpoke, be advised that Savoy's compilation of three sessions from 1945-'47 was issued in 1958, a year after William Claxton's classic shot for the Contemporary label, posing New York City slicker Theodore Rollins in a Brooks Brothers suit 'neath the blue sky in California's Mojave Desert. Moreover, the horseman pictured on Dexter Rides Again, reconnoitering Manhattan's Central Park on an overcast day, is not even Dexter Gordon, who was then reconnoitering San Quentin on a heroin bust. If anyone knows the story behind Jos. Bottwin's cover photo (click here for a larger view), please fill us in. – Alan Kurtz
Reviewer: Eric Novod