Dexter Gordon – Dexter Calling – Blue Note / Analogue Productions

by | Sep 12, 2009 | SACD & Other Hi-Res Reviews | 0 comments

Dexter Gordon – Dexter Calling – Blue Note/Analogue Productions CBNJ 84083 – Stereo-only SACD 1961, 43:13 [Distr. by Harmonia mundi] *****:

(Dexter Gordon, tenor sax; Kenny Drew, piano; Paul Chambers, bass; Philly Joe Jones, drums)

As jazz manna from audiophile heaven, Dexter Gordon’s second recording for Blue Note, recorded in 1961, easily stands the test of time. Dexter had passed through the bop period, while based in Los Angeles, where he did battle with Wardell Gray in frantic tenor blowing sessions.

He relocated to New York City, where he formed a lifelong friendship with Blue Note’s founder, Alfred Lion. For Dexter Calling Lion matched up Gordon for the first time with the top Blue Note bassist of the time, Paul Chambers, and added the balance of the dream rhythm section of pianist Kenny Drew, and drummer Philly Joe Jones.

Analogue Productions, out of Salina, Kansas, put the SACD remastering in the hands of their aces Kevin Gray and Steve Hoffman, and as expected their work has raised Dexter Calling to new heights. Gordon’s full-throated tenor tone has never sounded better. Compared to the red book Blue Note issues, we get the full audiophile in-studio sound that Rudy Van Gelder brought to its original vinyl release. A warmth permeates Dexter’s solos and the rhythm section is sharp, with Kenny Drew’s sympathetic comping and Chamber’s woody tone, backed by Philly Joe’s mastery on drums.

Soul Sister is taken at a leisurely gospel meets the blues pace. This tune was written for Freddie Redd’s gritty play, The Connection. After recording this session, Dexter went overseas with Kenny Drew to perform in a European tour of the play. Modal Mood follows and picks up the pace and Gordon’s bop expertise is highlighted. Drew adds a great solo as well. I Want More is next, and is another theme from The Connection. Dexter builds up to one crescendo after another and Philly Joe Jones matches Dexter in intensity all along the way.

Clear the Dex, written by Kenny Drew, provides an opportunity for the quartet to show their individual talents: Chambers arco solo, Kenny’s hard bop grooving, and Jones’ cymbal talents. Ernie’s Tune, the last of Gordon’s The Connection themes, shows the brilliant lyrical ballad blowing of Dexter, for which he had few peers who could match him in soulfulness. Smile, the Charlie Chaplin classic, is taken low key with Dexter strictly center stage and his rhythm section ably comping. Landslide, the closing track, was previously unissued until within a year it was part (as the title track) of three other unissued sessions between 1961 and 1962.

As part of a 25 SACD re-issue of classic Blue Note titles by Analogue Productions, Dexter Calling will hold its own. For those without the funds for a first issue Blue Note LP, which fetch well into the hundreds, this SACD issue will do the trick.

TrackList: Soul Sister, Modal mood, I Want More, The End of a Love Affair, Clear the Dex, Ernie’ Tune, Smile, Landslide

– Jeff Krow

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