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Dexter Gordon: Atlanta Georgia May 5, 1981

Atlanta Georgia May 5, 1981 (Storyville) finds Gordon in the company of his own rhythm section of pianist Kirk Lightsey, bassist Rufus Reid, bass and drummer Eddie Gladden. Gordon’s increasingly failing health is not readily apparent on this recording. His tone and sense of swing are still strong and his sense of humor intact (although the ever-present musical quotes can become a bit wearisome). And although he does lay back somewhat in relation to the beat on ballads like “As Time Goes By,” he’s not overdoing it yet, and his time concept is perfectly fitting for his emotion-charged performances of the songs. But he really digs in on such up tunes as “Tangerine” and the Jay McShann and Charlie Parker head “Jumpin’ Blues.” Individually and collectively, the rhythm section provides excellent support. Lightsey’s riffs-based solo on the lightning-fast Gordon blues “Backstairs” is especially impressive. Regrettably, the sound quality doesn’t match that of the playing. Perhaps because he sometimes needed to sit, Gordon is frequently off-mike, clearly audible but out of balance with his accompaniment.

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