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One Flight Up
LP (12" album, 33 rpm)
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One Flight Up (The Rudy Van Gelder Edition)
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Audio CD, Extra tracks, Original recording remastered, August 10, 2004
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Special offers and product promotions
A Blue Note essential, One Flight Up by Dexter Gordon is part of the Blue Note 75 anniversary LP reissue campaign, featuring 100 titles. Key to the initiative is high quality audio at affordable prices. Also available this month on LP: Bud Powell's The Scene Changes, Cassandra Wilson's New Moon Daughter (2LP), Donald Byrd's A New Perspective and Hank Mobley's The Turnaround.
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Everyone will mention Tanya, the opening track. And this is the undeniable truth. It is simply, transcendently awesome. I never become bored listening to it. It inspires each time. It takes your out of yourself.
I am not an unconditional fan of Gordon, I suppose, because some of his ablums are not up to the level of Go and One Flight Up. Gordon's weakness is for uninspired noodling in his characteristic tone and style... which when not inspired, becomes a bit tiring.
HOWEVER... this album is completely inspired. Awesome jazz.
Dexter Gordon albums from the late fifties and sixties tended to be all of a kind: Dexter, alone or with one or two additional horns, and rhythm section, playing straight ahead bop –all the parts in place but nothing too cerebral, and certainly not a lot of time spent on arranging.
One Flight Up is one of the better albums from that period, which means, with Dexter in the mix, it’s pretty good. The other horn in this case is Donald Byrd, bursting with energy and ideas, still young and not yet hackneyed in his soloing. The pianist, Kenny Drew, wasn’t a very original soloist but he knew the bop idiom backwards and forwards and thus was a good complement to Gordon’s more original and harder edged jazz. There was no better bassist around for a session like this than Neils-Henning Orsted Pedersen whose strength, spirit and solid musicality boosted any session he played in. Art Taylor was a respected figure in bop circles. I never found him exciting as I did, for instance, Blakey, Roach and Haynes, but he not only fits in on this session, on the first cut (“Tanya”), his drums sizzle and crackle with authority. At the center of it all is Dexter with that recognizable tenor sound: blunt, edging slightly towards but never hitting exactly flat on the note. His ideas are good but not brilliant, and certainly not startling. Best is his boundless energy: a Dexter Gordon solo never flags, the ideas never stop flowing, it always sounds confident.
As to the tunes, there are three bop tunes (Byrd’s “Tanya”, Drew’s “Coppin’ the Haven,” and Gordon’s “Kong Neptune”) and a ballad (“Darn That Dream”). “Tanya” is the knockout cut: a scorching, take no hostages up tempo tune with good solos by Gordon and Byrd and a respectable turn by Drew and roiling, unpredictable, kick a** drumming by Taylor.
The rythym section brings out Dex and "Tanya", an old and seemingly familiar, laid-back,class-A smoker by Donald Byrd. Dex is, at first, as "tenuous" as Dex gets, before blastin' out with some straight-up bop. Byrd picks up right where Dex leaves off; and is equally 'funky'. What IS of MOST serious notice, here, is Neils' OUTSTANDING bass work. Kenny 'waxes' through a cool solo, with Art 'highlighting' behind him, before the closing theme. Not to brag, but Kenny's "Coppin' The Haven" theme reminds me of some of my own writing. This is a 'stop n' go', medium-tempo cooker that brings out good work from everybody. Dex leads off with no lack of inventiveness. Byrd sounds great (when has he not?) here, mixing well with the tempo. Kenny is very relaxed and cool. Of particular note here, is Art's drums, accenting the changes.
"Darn That Dream" is an old, standard ballad. Dex handles it with the sentiment that it was written with, and the expertise of all top-line ballardeers. Kenny offers a breif, but sincere solo, as well.
When you've mastered a horn, and blown practically everything you can think to blow, at one time or another, then one day you pick up your horn, and stuff like "Kong Neptune" leaks out, you KNOW you are 'one mean mutha'. Dex knows!! He wrote it. This is one of the 'baddest' themes I've ever heard. It's Dexter Gordon comin' straight at you, blowing that great music he knows so very much about. It swings hard and has everybody jumpin'. Dex takes a long solo, followed by Kenny, who swings in a sort of Red Garland-Wynton Kelly-ish way, but it's all good. Neils' solo is on par, before Dex and Art engage in some pretty nice 'fours'. This is a very good set, from a great group of guys, with the accent on enjoyment. It's ONE FLIGHT UP!!!