Go - Dexter Gordon

Go - Dexter Gordon
Right from and ' entrance over descending bass line on Cheese Cake, this album lives up to its name, and goes. Dexter wades right into his solo with a self-assured and confidence that leaves no question that this is going to be smokin set. His tone is expansive and majestic throughout - follows with a brief, terse and somewhat restrained post-boppish, post- solo before comes sailing back in for a few choruses, keeping the energy of the piece intact. It's easy to hear from the broad, rich tone plays with why is considered one of influences - check out the higher register wails works in.

The ballad that follows - I Guess I'll Hang My Tears Out To Dry - again seems reminiscent of . Like Soul Eyes, (perhaps somewhat inexplicably for myself - and myself alone) it vividly conjures up the image/sensation of a late night cab ride in NYC - say, speeding uptown on Lexington in the pouring rain on one of those first fall nights, when that first chill cuts through the damp air, yet the insular environs of that cab's back seat hold the cold at bay, and the city streams by serenely in a watery blur of bending light and shadow... Such obtuse imagery and metaphor aside, rich tone overflows from this tune, drawing the listener in, immersing you in a curious ennui...

The more rollicking Second Balcony Jump changes the pace to more of a straight-up, joyous blowing session. nimbly timekeeping keeps a slightly loose pulse - creating an infectious swing on this tune. draws us into the groove further with the latin intro on Love For Sale. Dexter's statement of the melody - and his soaring, caterwauling, singing solo that follow conspire to make this perhaps my favorite recording of this piece. sounds at once majestic and sarcastic: injecting wry turns of phrase into lines that evoke a sense of grandeur that transcends the tune itself. His mariachi-esque entrance after solo soon gives way to brilliant ascending arpeggios nearly spanning the range of the horn, replete with fat, bulbous low register honks (again bringing to mind playing of this period) to keening, almost vocal upper-register wails.

Where Are You brings me back to those autumnal, rain-slicked city streets, with Dexter again conjuring a sense of a kind of regal loneliness - that incomparable realization of aloneness that the city can evoke at times...

Announcing its arrival with a quote from ' classic If I Were A Bell, Three In The Morning is another mid tempo number that shines on: Asserting his cool, confident mastery of the instrument and the idiom. As described Dexter's style of dress - "cleaner than a broke-dick dog" - this tune (an otherwise typical, forgettable hard-bop vehicle) is transformed at Gordon's hands into something with much more class - again, transcendent. One only need listen to Clarke's perfectly adroit and idiomatic solo in contrast to Gordon's playing, and Dexter's greatness is evident. Once more, Gordon enters after Sonny's solo with a tongue-in-cheek quote from Take Me Out To The Ballgame - almost trivializing Clarke's solo. Not to undermine Sonny - he's one of my favorite pianists of this period and style - just that the clarity of Dexter's inspiration on this date is in such a league of its own, rather overshadowing the playing of the rest of the band. From the perspective of being "Dexter's band," however, their performance is stellar all around. Completely supportive as a rhythm section, they lay down an infallible groove throughout, and deliver a few more modest solos that set off Gordon's work as all the more dazzling - solos that in other contexts that in their own right are nothing to be scoffed at.

What's important here, is that Go! is clearly a Dexter Gordon album - a wonderful documentation of a man playing at the height of his powers. Go! is definitely one that should be on the short list for any fan of hard-bop, 60s jazz - or for that matter, anybody with ears.

Go! (Blue Note - BLP 4112)
Rudy Van Gelder Studio, Englewood Cliffs, NJ
August 27, 1962