Dexter Gordon: Cheese Cake


Cheese Cake


Dexter Gordon (tenor sax)


Go! (Blue Note CDP 7 46094-2)

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Dexter Gordon (tenor sax), Sonny Clark (piano), Butch Warren (bass), Billy Higgins (drums).

Composed by Dexter Gordon


Recorded: Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey, August 27, 1962


Rating: 95/100 (learn more)

Once asked which of his own Blue Note albums his personal favorite was, Gordon rather surprisingly offered a response, declaring: “I would have to say it is Go!—the perfect rhythm section…made it possible for me to play whatever I wanted to play.”

One listen to “Cheese Cake” reveals that Dexter’s comment really isn’t much of an overstatement. Right off the bat, one can’t help but notice the magnetism of Billy Higgins’s and Dexter Gordon’s shared proclivity towards vigorous playing with a tender touch. They are perfect foils for one another, and it’s no surprise that Higgins became the saxophonist’s drummer of choice for much of the remainder of his Blue Note period and during years beyond.

Clark is also in fine form here, comping at a somewhat softer, entirely perfect volume (an art unto itself) that allows him to busily predict Gordon’s moves without stepping on his toes. What’s then left to discuss is whatever Dexter wanted to play. In typical Gordon form, his improvisation begins with some standard, unhurried bebop fare and is slowly but surely enhanced by quotes, hints of the blues, and sudden vertical leaps that Gordon unpacks and prolongs along the way. Finally, note how Gordon adds a bit more length to the end of many of his eighth notes to achieve a deep, straightened-out-swing feel. A textbook bebop/hard-bop performance.

Reviewer: Eric Novod

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