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Dexter Gordon: L.T.D.

This is Long Tall Dexter captured live in 1969 at the Famous Ballroom in Baltimore for the Left Bank Jazz Society. The great tenor saxophonist stretches out on four tunes with his customary regal flair for phrasing, articulation and expression. This inspired set also includes pianist Bobby Timmons, bassist Victor Gaskin and drummer Percy Brice, all in good form.

On a medium-tempo “Broadway” Gordon builds steadily through 11 improvised choruses and then turns it over to Timmons, who at one point latches on to a treble motif and makes it work for him throughout an entire chorus. A slightly slower “Boston Bernie,” Gordon’s melody on the chords to “All the Things You Are,” again finds the tenor man inventive and powerful. “In a Sentimental Mood,” the set’s lone ballad, is a typically classic tenor performance, with Gordon’s dramatic, behind-the-beat phrasing and economical, firmly structured solo leading the way. An uptempo “Blues Up and Down” that includes 40 headlong tenor choruses closes the album.

This set may open ears to Timmons for those unfamiliar with his piano work. (The late Timmons, who was a member of Art Blakey’s Jazz Messengers and the Cannonball Adderley Quintet in the early days of those groups, is the composer of the funky jazz hits “Moanin'” and “This Here.”) Here, he swings hard, his solos often characterized by spinning treble figures, stomping rhythms, a strong taste of the blues and a clear sense of structural development.

The only negatives to this album are Gordon’s occasionally scratchy tone and what appears to be variable tape speed, the latter most noticeable on “In a Sentimental Mood.”

Originally Published