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Dexter Gordon: Happy Birthday

Although Dexter Gordon left us 13 years ago, rare or previously unreleased Gordon material continues to become widely available. Happy Birthday (Storyville), issued in honor of what would have been Gordon’s 80th birthday on February 27, makes a fine addition to the Gordon legacy. Consisting of three Danish sessions from 1968, 1975 and 1978, when the pioneering bebop tenorist was still in his prime, it strengthens the historical assessment that Gordon at his best was one of the most individualistic and inventive exponents of his instrument ever. Among the CD’s special moments is a performance of “Body and Soul”-accompanied by, of all people, the Teddy Wilson Trio where the tenorist confidently explores that venerable vehicle with his typical expansive melodic imagination and gorgeous tone. Charlie Parker’s blues “Buzzy” finds him in a quintet with trumpeter Red Rodney and pianist Kenny Drew Sr. blowing top-caliber, uptempo bebop. A quartet with pianist George Cables, bassist Rufus Reid and drummer Eddie Gladden also features blazing bop as well as a pensive, cliche-free reading of the ballad “Laura.”

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