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Dexter Gordon Biography Wins Deems Taylor/Virgil Thomson Award

Maxine Gordon's 2018 book about her late husband earns the ASCAP Foundation's nod for Outstanding Music Biography

Maxine Gordon
Maxine Gordon (photo courtesy of University of California Press)

The ASCAP Foundation recently announced the winners of its 51st annual Deems Taylor/Virgil Thomson Awards for outstanding print, broadcast, liner notes, and new-media coverage of music. Although most of this year’s honored work is not jazz-related, there is one major exception: the winner of the Timothy White Award for Outstanding Music Biography in the pop field, Maxine Gordon’s Sophisticated Giant: The Life and Legacy of Dexter Gordon, published in 2018 by the University of California Press.

Gordon, the widow of the tenor saxophonist and modern-jazz innovator sometimes known as “Long Tall Dexter,” took a slightly unusual approach to writing Sophisticated Giant. As Miles Willis noted in his JazzTimes review of the book, she incorporated some of her late husband’s poetry and letters into the narrative, in addition to her own research, interviews, and reminiscences.

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