Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Dexter Gordon - "Stairway To The Stars"

First cut here on JazzTracks-the great Dexter Gordon with the lovely ballad Stairway to the Stars. I've always thought of Dexter as the Joe DiMaggio of the tenor sax-he makes it all seem so easy. This is from the Our Man in Paris album (1963). This album got a 4 star (maximum) rating from The Penguin Guide to Jazz, and TPGTJ's people call it a "classic". No argument here.

Dexter had moved to Europe, as so many jazz guys ultimately did in the 60's, from Phil Woods to Maynard Ferguson. The Beatles, though they themselves produced good music, wrecked the market for more grown-up, sophisticated pop music and jazz. When Gordon moved back to the US in the 70's (after, somewhat ironically, jazz-rock fusion had revived the market for acoustic jazz) it was a very big deal.

Dexter often said that on ballads a jazz musician should think of the lyrics, not just the melody and the changes. Quite obviously Gordon is well aware of the lyrics of this classic standard, with words by Mitchell Parish.

This track features the great Bud Powell on piano, in his best ballad mode. You tend to think of Bud as the ultimate bebop guy, romping through changes at breakneck speed, but he's in perfect form for the romantic mood here.

Bob Perkins, America's greatest DJ, played this on WRTI yesterday, and I thought it would be a good opener for my re-configured blog.

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