Dexter Gordon: The Shadow of Your Smile


The Shadow of Your Smile


Dexter Gordon (tenor sax)


The Shadow of Your Smile (Steeplechase SCCD 31206)

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Dexter Gordon (tenor sax),

Lars Sjosten (piano), Sture Nordin (bass), Fredrik Noren (drums)


Composed by Johnny Mandel and Paul Francis Webster


Recorded: Stockholm, Sweden, April 21, 1971


Rating: 94/100 (learn more)

If you ask someone to connect Dexter Gordon to a single record label, I’d guess that nine times out of ten, Blue Note is deservedly going to be the label uttered. But perhaps just as rich and rewarding a historical legacy is Gordon’s relationship with Steeplechase, the Danish label with which he recorded countless albums throughout his European sojourn from 1962-1974. Just a quick rundown reveals how much there is to offer—the seven-volume Dexter in Radioland series documenting his extended run at the famed Montmartre club in 1964, his individual mid-sixties sessions including Loose Walk and Wee Dot, and the late 1969 dates that led to the Swiss Nights releases.

The Shadow of Your Smile is among the first of Gordon’s Steeplechase releases from the 1970s. Supported with a light touch by a Swedish backing band, Gordon is in the mood to play slowly here, and does so exquisitely. “Shadow of Your Smile,” along with his longtime favorite, “You’ve Changed,” are two of the ballads that Gordon played most frequently, and any version you may find speaks to Gordon’s dedication to staying true to the original lyric. On this one, he chooses to embellish that lyric, and later develop his improvisation, with a heightened sense of open rhythmic space. We’re so used to hearing Gordon seem to know exactly where he’s going next that listening to a more speculative, slow-searching statement is an attractive and unique late-career experience.

Reviewer: Eric Novod

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