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Dexter Gordon: The Rainbow People

Dexter Gordon rendered much of his best work as a lone horn with rhythm section, but his discography also includes many examples of tenor-trumpet interaction. The Rainbow People (Steeplechase) is a modest but fortunate addition to that list. This previously unreleased 1974 recording captures Gordon on a Scandinavian stage with Benny Bailey, fellow expatriate and veteran of the swing-to-bebop era. At times their rapport can seem a study in contrasts; on a midtempo “C Jam Blues,” Gordon’s long-flowing lines and Bailey’s exclamatory bursts embody a kind of yin and yang. Elsewhere, they’re more on the same page. Bailey matches Gordon’s measured strides on the easygoing title track, and Gordon joins Bailey in breathing fire on a punchy “Montmartre.” Like virtually all of Gordon’s mid-’70s Steeplechase output, Rainbow conveys a loose and organic vibe well suited to the saxophonist’s famously fulsome improvisations. There are several of those here (the hour-long set includes just four songs), and it’s a testament to Gordon’s European backing band, and especially pianist Lars Sjosten, that tedium never sets in. As for the Gordon-Bailey hookup, it would resurface a few years later on the saxophonist’s big studio comeback (Sophisticated Giant, on Columbia)-a testament to these two musician’s mutual regard.

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