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GO (RVG EDITION)
Gordon qui promène sa haute silhouette tout au long du film de Bertrand Tavernier, Autour de minuit, fut l'un des premiers saxophonistes ténors à rejoindre les rangs des boppers. Comme le résume bien le titre d'un de ses disques, Dexter Blows Hot And Cool, son style est un mélange de force et de nonchalance, comme si Lester Young et Coleman Hawkins avaient uni leurs efforts pour se partager un seul et même instrument. Dexter qui joua bien sûr avec Charlie Parker et Dizzy Gillespie, fut surtout le partenaire privilégié d'un autre saxophoniste, Wardell Gray, au cours de mémorables batailles de ténors. Pour Blue Note, il réalisa dans les années 60 une dizaine d'albums dont le plus célèbre, Go !, reflète précisément les principales caractéristiques de son jeu. Décontracté dans ses ballades, Dexter affirme avec puissance son lyrisme et swingue avec autorité et aisance. À ses côtés, Sonny Clark, merveilleux pianiste à l'efficace main gauche, est le compagnon idéal de son tendre et viril saxophone. --Pierre de Chocqueuse
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Parmi les meilleurs moments, la magnifique ballade "I Guess I'll Hang My Tears Out to Dry" et le titre frénétique qui la suit "Second Balcony Jump".
Le groupe fait preuve d' une belle cohésion pour servir au mieux le talent de Dexter Gordon.
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The most important point to made of all this is Gordon left the United States just a few steps before the major social upheaval of the 1960's occurred. Gordon missed the sea change that transpired in popular culture as the baby boomers began to take the stage both literally and metaphorically. The United States Gordon came back to fifteen years later was a much different place than the one he left. While developments often went in parallel between America and Europe, the political and social upheavals had different meanings and outcomes. It is not as if Gordon stepped into a time capsule when he went to Europe to live; but expectations of him as an artist were different.
More interestingly, Gordon bypassed the "fusion" experiments in jazz and returned to the scene just as many were looking for a more `authentic" voice in jazz after enduring the bells and whistles of the "next big thing". Since his return and especially after his appearance in the movie `ROUND MIDNIGHT, there has been renewed interest in Gordon's back catalog. GO! is one of the most prominent albums in this popular revival.
The liner notes give one the impression that these recordings were made under somewhat rushed circumstances. If that is so, they don't sound like it. From the very first notes we are treated to a very keen and snappy set of six pieces. Jazz saxophone albums sometimes have a reputation for being slow and sad affairs-more suited to rainy afternoons of quiet introspection. There is none of that here. Gordon and company catch your attention with a high-spirited gallop appropriate for an evening of joyous dancing.
In "Cheese Cake", "Second Balcony Jump", "Three O'Clock In The Morning" and even Cole Porter's "Love For Sale" throws one back to times when people danced to jazz instead of sitting down in quiet contemplation. Indeed, such is the tempo and attitude displayed here that there is something about these performances that reminded me of the 1940's instead of the early 1960's. Gordon's sax playing is bright and warmly assertive to the point that it rises to the level of graceful singing-not just honking out notes. Sammy Clark matches Gordon's fiery displays with sharp articulation on the piano that threatens to steal the show at every turn. If you haven't discovered what an absolutely wonderful drummer Bill Higgins was on Charles Lloyd's last few CDs, check him out here as he shows that even as a relatively young man he knew how to let you marvel at his talent and yet throw the spotlight on other players. Anchoring all these is the steady and solid upright bass playing of Butch Warren. Bass playing is often an unheralded role in any ensemble and in the presence of fantastic fellow band members it must be tempting to play at a level of just "good enough". There is no "good enough" effort with Warren here. Instead Warren rolls, rises and dives in tandem with Higgins with a sensitive ear toward Gordon and Smith.
Even the two "ballads", "I Guess I'll Hang My Tears Out To Dry" and "Where Are You", are taken at a clip that is just under the excitement of the four faster pieces mentioned above. The melancholy normally associated with these songs gives way to a cool and confident reading that only slows down the pace of the album a bit. "Where Are You" is a song I typically associate with Frank Sinatra and if I'm not missing my guess Gordon is taking his reading from Sinatra himself. In both versions the actual music resembles more the lilting, gliding motion of a feather drifting through the air. It is only in the very lyrics themselves the hearer perceives the broken glass of dashing hopes. Gordon's playing shakes the song's normal mood from its sadness and pumps it up into a vehicle of high altitude grace.
Finally, this is an outstanding recording sonically. I cannot say whether the achievement rests in the original recording (although even with today's digital bells and whistles there is only so much that can be done with a poor source tape.) or in the transfer from analog to digital production. But this is another demonstration how good high quality monophonic sound could be in those years before stereo became the industry standard. The sound is alive and "hot" as each instrument is distinct and can be clearly discerned from each other.
GO! deserves all the raptures that have come its way. While taking nothing away from Parker or Coltrane it will add another dimension to your appreciation of music. The only "down:" side is that most will feel that the CD's under forty minutes length is much too short.
Based on previous reviews, Cheese Cake seems to be the big hit here but the two tracks that really take the cake for me are Love For Sale and Three O'Clock in the Morning. This Love For Sale is a giant. One of my favorites. One of the biggest disappointments of this disc is that there aren't one or two alternate takes of Love For Sale included here. Of course the reasoning is understandable. If this was the first take then there was no reason for any one in attendance (band, producer, engineer) to think a 2nd take was needed, as this first one is a masterpiece.
It is indeed true that if you're in the market for one of the more "progressive" Blue Notes along the lines of Out To Lunch or Fuchsia Swing Song or Contours, this may not be for you at this very minute. This isn't blazing any new trails, punching down any walls and letting a whole new world view shine in through the cracks. Nope. This is just killin', hard-swinging, straight-ahead bop by the top-notch band of Dexter, Sonny Clark, Butch Warren, and Billy Higgins. Dexter's tone and absolute mastery of the art of melodic improvisation are on full display here.
Did I mention that the sound on this one is excellent, too? I have to mention that I didn't have any pre-RVG versions of this though, so I don't know to what degree the sound is improved. I just know I love what I have.
At this stage in his life, this wasn't a guy thinking he should still be trying to change the world, but he most certainly was a guy who could tell some amazing melodic stories with his horn. When I say that, don't be thinking this is museum jazz played by a guy doing the same thing he'd been doing for 20 years! You'll notice that Dexter had indeed absorbed some of the newer things that the younger generation of tenor players were doing... and he uses them to great effect. If you're a jazz fan and you can afford it, there is no reason why this disc shouldn't be in your collection.
Dexter Gordon has always been one of my favorite saxophonists. His sound is warm, not as deep as Sonny Rollins, and more heavy than Hank Mobley, Dexter was his own man. He had a style all his own, and demonstrated them on a vast number of fine albums for Blue Note in the early sixties.
I think the only other equivelent to Gordon's Go album is Dexter Calling. A fine work by all who participated, but back to Go.
Cheese Cake, written by Gordon is an endless flow of ideas, originality, dexterity, and fine horn playing. One of the best "B" sections I ever heard.
As the boys groove through Second Balcony Jump, the music is very effective. The unique (for a Blue Note album at the time) rendition of Love For Sale, is definately a highlight on the album. And so is the ballad, Where Are You.
The musicians on the album are all great too. The underrated, Sonny Clark, who recorded this album in the last months of his short life, was at the top of his game. His ideas are expressive, innovative, and provocative. He is the color that comes from the nifty quartet. The stride piano opening line by Clark on Three O'Clock In The Morning reminds me of the opener Miles Davis used to have pianist Red Garland do for the opening of "If I Were A Bell." Garland also did it with his own trio. (Red Garland's Piano, circa 1957)
The Rhythm section team of Butch Warren and Billy Higgins must have been a dream to play with for Gordon and Clark. Billy Higgins was being used around this time on a lot of Blue Note sessions. He had made his mark with Ornette Coleman in 1959 a couple years earlier.
The sound quality could be a little better, but with the exceptional music, one does not seem to notice, but the rivet cymbol overdose is a killer sometimes, when it sizzles through all the other instruments.
It is no wonder how this album made its way to compact disk, but just be greatful for it.
Dexter Gordon lives on!