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Jazz Icons: Dexter Gordon Live in '63 & '64
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24 of 24 people found the following review helpful
on December 1, 2007
Format: DVD
Dexter Gordon fans will find plenty to love on this DVD of three European TV shows filmed in the 1960s. Dexter is in top form on seven songs, really stretching out and getting the lion's share of the solo time.

The band on "Second Balcony Jump" and "You've Changed" consists of Dexter, Kenny Drew(p), Gilbert "Bibi" Rovere(b), and Art Taylor(d). The rest of the program has George Gruntz(p), Guy Pedersen(b), and Daniel Humair(d) backing Dexter on "A Night in Tunisia", "What's New", Clifford Brown's "Blues Walk", "Lady Bird", and "Body and Soul". The ballads are masterful and gorgeous (of course). I think "You've Changed" is even better here than on his "Doin' Alright" album.

You can find some of these performances on youtube if you want an idea of what you'll get, just keep in mind the picture and sound quality are much better on the DVD (quite good in fact). Also, the liner notes by Dexter's widow are excellent- informative and very entertaining.

If you're a fan of Dexter's Blue Note albums you won't be disappointed. If you're unfamiliar with this tenor giant, this is a good place to start.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Format: DVD
A friend gave me this DVD and it has since become one of my often-watched (and studied) performance videos.

The opening scene on the DVD reminded me of Dexter's character, Dale Turner, in 'Round Midnight walking along a narrow Paris street to the Blue Note. Instead, it is the man himself walking into a small club in Amersfoort, Holland for a performance that was broadcast on TV. You can tell this scene was staged because Dexter was wearing a trench coat and the performance took place on 29 July 1964 (not exactly the time of year one wears outerwear).

His trio was playing when he walked in and took to the bandstand, and he joined them with a smoking rendition of Night In Tunisia. Although that song was Dizzy Gillespie's bebop anthem and made his own by Art Blakey and his Jazz Messengers, Dexter's rendition is one of my favorites.

He finished his set off with equally impressive performances of What's New and Blues Walk (the latter a Sonny Stitt composition). What sets Dexter apart from other tenor players is he had his own style - and it was more like an alto sax than a tenor. But what I truly loved about this segment was the backing ensemble consisting of George Gruntz on piano, Guy Pedersen on bass and Daniel Humair on drums. They were tight and it was obvious that either this was rehearsed or they had played with Dexter before. Some research revealed that Humair was Dexter's preferred drummer, and as a drummer I can understand why. Humair anticipated Dexter's every note, as well as the other members of the trio. Indeed, Gruntz and Pedersen also played beautifully.

For non drummers, please skip over this (and forgive me.) Humain's playing was amazing as I stated, but he was also unique. He played right-handed on a left handed kit, and on a few occasions played open-handed (switching hands to ride his cymbal while comping on his snare drum.)

Segment two was shot in Lugano, Switzerland on 20 September 1963. His trio consisted of Kenny Drew on piano, Gilbert Rovere on bass and the great (and prolific) Art Taylor on drums. They played Second Balcony Jump and You've Changed, both of which were delightful renditions. It is always a treat for me to actually watch Art Taylor on drums because not only is he one of my influences, but on countless jazz albums. If you pick up ten random jazz albums from the 1950s-60s chances are the drummer would be either Philly Joe Jones or Art Taylor on half of them. Most of the time his playing blends to the point of being generic, but here he lets loose. I am also a big fan of Kenny Drew, so this segment is one I sometimes skip directly to when I watch this video.

The final segment was shot in Brussels on 8 January 1964 with George Gruntz on piano, Guy Pedersen on bass and Daniel Humair on drums (the same line-up as the Holland performance.) If I could only use a single word to describe the performance it would be 'lovely.' The songs were Lady Bird and Body And Soul, and for some reason they seemed to be a perfect way to wind down and end this video.

Throughout the performances Dexter speaks and ad libs little rhyming intros to songs before they are played. In that respect you get a glimpse into the personality (and, dare I say, charisma) of the man as well as the musician. His playing here depicts him at the height of his powers. Or, if not at the height, certainly at a high level of his powers. In addition to the video itself, the accompanying 24-page booklet provides a mini bio on the musicians as well as a thumbnail of the performances.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on December 17, 2008
Format: DVDVerified Purchase
I loved this DVD! My father and I had seen Dex in Detroit at Baker's Keyboard Lounge in the '80s. It was by far the coolest thing I have ever done in my life. I have watched this DVD over and over and each time I hear something different. I ordered a copy for myself and my Dad. I live in Hawaii but I could picture his face when he sat down to listen and watch the DVD. I told him once he watched the DVD he would be speaking in tongues. I knew he would lose his mind. I think Dex is the ballad master and there are some nice ballads on this DVD. You've Changed is one of my favorites. Buy this DVD! You will not be disappointed!
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18 of 25 people found the following review helpful
on September 13, 2007
Format: DVD
There have been many sax players during the short jazz history... few stand out.... Dexter is one of them...and except the trumpet in early years...sax probably is THE instrument associated with jazz after the 40's....picture a late night foggy night inside a smoked filled club...you see a musician playing a jazz ballad...well that's what you get in this DVD....

Dexter had come up right during the be-bop years...unlike the sax players before him who had one leg into swing era and one into the new be-bop...Dexter was all be-bop...and later hard-bop...

In my opinion there are very few sax players that can squize the juice out of a BALLAD and dexter was one of them...in this DVD..he does You've Changed and What's New...nobody can play the ballad quite like Dexter...on other upbeat tunes..he has a way of ..climbing the mood with layer after layer which you can see and hear it on this DVD...with great picture and amazing sound....lots of sax players' styles have been copied ..but you can't copy Dexter...you know it's him from 10-miles away..very definit staring note and ending note....he was the ultimate COOL DUDE....if someone says I like to hear or see a good vintage jazz DVD...this is it...buy it...!!

Watch this DVD..see how COOL this guy was....I have most of his CD's..and could not wait to get this DVD to see him in person..during the hight of his career. You get it all in this DVD...
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on May 19, 2012
Format: DVDVerified Purchase
I own a just about every record Dexter Gordon has ever appeared on, and the tracks on this DVD go toe to toe with all of them. I can't believe the quality of sound and video accomplished on this production. I've already begun transcribing his solo from Ladybird! This DVD is a must have for Dexter fans.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on October 10, 2011
Format: DVDVerified Purchase
Gordon never played better than he did in the early Sixties. This DVD captures him at three different venues in 1963 and 1964 with the robust support of two different rhythm sections. Dexter sounds and looks great, and the audio and video quality are both excellent. What's not to like? Buy it.
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5 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on June 28, 2008
Format: DVDVerified Purchase
This is the 2nd of this series that I have viewed.
This is acceptable visual. quite good for the date.
This showcases Dexter at his best. This is a must
for die hard fans of his, that must see this great
saxophonist perform. If only we could have had color.
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on December 28, 2014
Format: DVDVerified Purchase
Excellent video. As a jazz buff, I have enjoyed watching one of the greatest jazz musicians,
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3 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on July 6, 2009
Format: DVD
Dexter Gordon. You either love him or ... well, you don't. You've got to admit that there are any number of his contemporaries who exceeded his talents on the tenor, from erstwhile compatriot Teddy Edwards through the underrated Booker Ervin (with a whole list in-between: Trane, Rollins, Land, Mobley, Golson, and so on). But none of these guys could beat Gordon in the mystique department. Gordon was tall, handsome, honeytongued and not a little odd, and his whole persona just screams "legendary". If that's your fix, this DVD gives it to you in spades - from the very opening frames, in which we see Dex in a trenchcoat and porkpie hat walking down a dark lane and ducking into a swinging Amersterdam jazz club, before picking up his axe and diving into his set. He's backed by a European pick-up band, three white boys who really know how to play. On the uptempo numbers, you can hear Gordon's link to Trane and on the slower tunes his link to Rollins, but he doesn't dig in nearly as deep as either of these guys. Watch this DVD for its full length, and you realise Gordon has emptied his bag of tricks pretty quick. But he sure was handsome.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on August 11, 2014
Format: DVDVerified Purchase
i like it
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