I’m posting interviews from AllAboutJazz.com 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: