Saturday, November 04, 2006

Our Man In Paris

Dexter Gordon made this record in Paris in May of 1963, using a rhythm section that featured two American jazz legends, long since expatriated to France, pianist Bud Powell and drummer Kenny Clarke, along with the French bassist Pierre Michelot.

The first cut on the album signals the proceedings, laying out in clear terms what lies ahead so you can strap in for the ride or clear out.
After the humorous intro to Scrapple for the Apple where Dexter plays the riff from
Dragnet (? doubtless a reminder of scuffles in the Big Apple), he plays the jaunty Charlie Parker head. Here immediately; the paradox of a lighthearted but solid melody, stated by a saxophone sound that can barely contain itself within the allotted notes, breaking at the edges, and gnawing like a wild animal at the cage bars to have at it.
When the melody has been stated, and one expects the usual intricate bop lines, Dexter starts out like a sonorous taxi with the horn of a train, driving everyone from the intersection to state his case, beating/telegraphing out single notes as if to say "don't worry yet about the fancy licks, HERE IS THE SOUND and i am in LOVE with the SOUND!". Once the sound has been revealed, he proceeds to unfurl his graceful exuberant lines, and tears the tune to shreds.

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