The proof that one can have a presence in jazz without being muscular is Dexter Gordon; especially so on “Gettin’ Around.” Of course there are those, and rightly so, who will tell you that Dexter Gordon is a commanding presence, that to play with him requires one to accept a supportive role, accepting his lead, and that to listen to him requires the undivided attention of the listener.
But the contradiction to all that is never more evident than right here, where Gordon’s sound almost unfolds, where he’s softened his notes, holding back with restraint at nearly every turn, as if he’s taken a chapter form Lester Young, laying down a body of work that though not demanding of your attention, holds it nonetheless, with a mellow passion that will grace your turntable night or day.
Never more so, it’s a delight to have some jazz history in your pocket when listening to “Gettin’ Around,” just as it is in rock n’ roll, because Gordon drops several Easter Eggs into the mix, partly to keep you awake, to see if your listening, yet more, to refresh and transform what you thought you’d already known. Consider his song “Manha De Carnaval,” where on the first chorus he quotes three bars from “Delilah,” by Victory Young. And then there’s the use of Bebussy’s “Clair De Lune,” in “Le Coiffeur ... but I hesitate to point out others, as the discovery is such a pure joy.
Yet for me, the skies parted with the presence of “Very Saxily Yours” ... as I own the original vinyl release, the release that excluded “Very Saxily Yours,” and it was more than exciting to see that the number has found it’s way back, and in correct tracking order, as this is the one and only song where Dexter Gordon flashes his tenor prowess, causing a sly smile to inch across my face, because he does it at just the right time, for all the right reasons, merely letting it peek from his pocket, yet as welcome as a long lost friend, just when you least expected to see them.
Review made by Jenell Kesler/2016
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