Dexter Gordon Quartet - Manhattan Symphonie

Dexter Gordon Quartet
Manhattan Symphonie


First Appeared in The Music Box, August 2005, Volume 12, #8

Written by John Metzger


In 1962, Dexter Gordon was attempting to get his career back on track, but he found himself unable to perform in New York City as a result of a drug bust he had sustained in the í50s. Consequently, he packed up his gear and moved to Europe. Although he sporadically returned to the U.S. to record new material, it wasnít until 1976 that he remained in the country for any length of time. Not surprisingly, his homecoming was welcomed wholeheartedly. After all, Gordonís stature had grown considerably over the years, not only because of the astounding set of albums that he had made for the Blue Note label during the í60s but also because he was a prime influence upon both John Coltrane and Sonny Rollins.

Gordonís resurgence immediately secured him a deal with Columbia Records, and he subsequently established his first permanent line-up, which featured pianist George Cables, bass player Rufus Reid, and drummer Eddie Gladden. After performing together for nearly a year, the ensemble laid down the tracks that became Manhattan Symphonie, Gordonís final gem. The collection begins with an extraordinarily emotional interpretation of the timeless classic As Time Goes By, and it joyously pays tribute to Coltrane by interpreting Momentís Notice. Elsewhere the quartet digs into Donald Byrdís Tanya, bringing an inventive playfulness to the songís sultry, late-night ramble, and it brilliantly encapsulates its leaderís love of New York City with the swinging strains of LTD.

Unfortunately, by the early í80s, Gordonís health had begun to deteriorate, and he never again was able to capture consistently the magic that propels the startlingly heartfelt music on Manhattan Symphonie. At long last, the album has made its debut on CD, and the set is augmented by a pair of stellar bonus tracks. The first is a soulfully tender reading of Thelonious Monkís Ruby My Dear, which previously was released on Great Encounters, and the second is the breezy and bustling lost nugget Secret Love. Both additions bolster what already was a remarkably engaging collection of material from one of the jazz worldís truly great saxophonists. starstarstarstar

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1 Star: Pitiful
2 Stars: Listenable
3 Stars: Respectable
4 Stars: Excellent
5 Stars: Can't Live Without It!!


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