Category: Gordon, Dexter

1960s Dexter Gordon Audio Interviews

More Dex this week! Here are 17 beautiful minutes of Dexter Gordon telling his life story. The audio comes from some rare outtakes and extras from Dexter Gordon – Complete Blue Note Sixties Sessions

—Peter Blasevick

Dexter Gordon: The Chuck Berg Interview

Dexter_Gordon1A final Dexter Gordon interview for the week. As he explains in the following interview with Chuck Berg which appeared in the February 10, 1977 issue of Downbeat magazine, a variety of factors came together in the early 1960s which influenced him to leave the USA for Europe where Dexter ultimately took up residence in Copenhagen. From the interview, posted on at the JazzProfiles blog, Dex talks about being in New York City after many years away:

It’s great to be back. Of course I’ve been going out to the West Coast for years, which has been very nice. But I had forgotten how fantastic and exciting New York is. There’s no place like this in the world. This is it, you know. It’s always been that way. This time, for me, it’s been overwhelming because from the minute we got off the plane everything has been fantastic, unbelievable. I really wasn’t prepared for this kind of a reaction, ‘the return of the conquering hero’ and all that.”

Click here to read Dexter Gordon: The Chuck Berg Interview 

—Peter Blasevick

Dexter Gordon: Transcontinental Tenorist

Dexter GordonDexter_Gordon1 interviews this week! Here is a 1972 Downbeat interview with the great tenor conducted by Jenny Armstrong right after he won the 1971 Downbeat Critic’s Poll. From the interview, Dexter talks about polls and awards:

JA: In what way can it be of importance to you?

DG: Well, first of all, recognition—to have a little recognition, that is very nice, you dig. It is good for the ego, for the psyche. A recognition of what I’ve been trying to do for years—it’s certainly not just a spot opinion; I mean, it’s something that obviously has been building up for years. Of course, it is also very good for publicity, and it is the kind of recognition that maybe will help financially, also.

JA: Do you think that these polls mirror the reality of what is happening in the music world?

DG: You know, there are two kinds of polls. There’s the critics poll, and then there’s another poll where the readers write in. But one would say that the first is the, of course, more critical poll, because it’s supposed to be music critics who are voting. But it doesn’t necessarily reflect your popularity or name value.

JA: Do you think that critics are able to judge who’s best?

DG: Well, it’s an individual thing, but we must assume that if they are music critics, then they must know something about music. They spend a lot of time listening—they must know something about music in order to be able to write half way intelligently about it. So you have to assume that they do know something about it.

Click here to read Dexter Gordon: Transcontinental Tenorist

—Peter Blasevick


Maxine Gordon: The Legacy of Dexter Gordon

I’m posting interviews from all week. Their mission is to “provide information and opinion about jazz from the past, present, and future,” and they do a good job of it!

Today we celebrate the late, great Dexter Gordon’s 90th birthday. Gordon was a focal point of the bebop and hard bop revolutions, and later in his career, he achieved the status of an American icon with his lead role in Bernard Tavernier’s 1986 film, Round Midnight, which garnered him an Academy Award nomination. Gordon’s wife and longtime manager, Maxine Gordon, has kept the legacy strong through lectures and guest appearances, donation of all of Gordon’s archival work to the Library of Congress, the licensing group Dex Music LLC and The Dexter Gordon Society.

Maxine is also a serious scholar, and is finishing her PhD at NYU in preparation for her biography of Dexter, which is due out this year. During this 2012 interview with Victor Schermer, she responds to a comparison of her exhaustive work to that of Monk’s biographer Robin Kelley:

“Actually, Robin was my adviser. I did the research for him on the San Juan Hill neighborhood in Manhattan where Monk came of age. But my biography of Dexter is somewhat different. I’m writing more of a cultural history, and a large part of the book is in Dexter’s own words. He did a lot of writing—vignettes, letters. While he was in Europe, he wrote letters to Alfred Lion and Frank Wolff at Blue Note. I have placed all those letters, his and theirs, in the Library of Congress. I became an archivist, and put together three Dexter Gordon collections in the Library of Congress: first of all, his papers. Then, in Culpeper, Virginia is the recorded sound—all his CDs, tapes, and 78s. Finally, there are the letters, music manuscripts, photos, and documents. My research for Dexter’s biography will utilize these collections extensively.”

I can’t wait to read her biography of Dex, but until then, we have this interview:

Click here to read Maxine Gordon: The Legacy of Dexter Gordon

Dexter Gordon: 1976 & 1979

Dexter_Gordon1This week I’ll be linking to a series of interviews from the Canadian Jazz Archive Online, a project of JAZZ FM.91, Canada’s premier jazz radio station.

Here are two 1970s talks with tenor great Dexter Gordon. In the first Gordon discusses playing with Fletcher Henderson, Los Angeles, and his history with addiction; in the second he covers his strength as a player, his fame in Japan, and musical integrity versus commercial success. From the first interview:

“I come from the Los Angeles, which is not too far from Texas, and so many of the Texas tenor players were my inspirations. And they traditionally have big, strong sounds … And I mean, for me, really if a tenor player doesn’t have a big sound, he’s lacking a little something. Of course, everybody can’t be Gene Ammons or somebody, you know, but still it should be of, you know, full tenor sound.”

Click here to listen to Dexter Gordon: 1976

Click here to listen to Dexter Gordon: 1979

— Peter Blasevick

Two Dexter Gordon Interviews

Dex sat down to talk to Les Tomkins in 1962 and these two great pieces came out of it. The legendary tenor talks about his time away from jazz, West Coast jazz, Blue Note, and a host of other topics.

Click here to read “They can’t take that away from me”

Click here to read “Lester and Wardell”