Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Dexter GORDON - Panther! 1970

Dexter GORDON - Panther! 1970


"Body and Soul" is currently the most recorded American song of all time (over 1600 versions in print). Never the first choice of vocalists (though Frank, Billie, Ella, Sarah, Carmen, Diana Krall and Mr. B all left their marks on the tune), its longevity probably owes more to Coleman Hawkins' classic recording than to any other single factor. Although Tatum, Oscar, and Nat have recorded distinctive, personal interpretations, B&S is above all "the" anthem for the tenor saxophone. And of all the available tenor sax versions, it's hard to think of any that matches this particular performance by Dexter, with the possible exception of Hawk's own.
Mr. Long and Tall "sculpts" each note into a dagger, then aims it right at your heart, that trademark sweet-sour sound leaving the most agreeable, lingering aftertaste. Juxtaposing Dexter's deliberate and definitive pronouncements with the knowledge that this is, after all, music being created "in the moment" is evidence enough to convince me that between Trane's death in 1967 and the waning of Dexter's powers in the mid-80s, there simply was no better improvisor, regardless of instrument, on the planet.

Flanagan's piano is both reponsive to the moment and responsible for its creation. With utter simplicity and directness, drawing on an inspired impressionism that complements Dexter's rich classicism, Flanagan spins an accompaniment that suspends harmony, time, and movement. Despite the piece's strong harmonic progressions, the listener experiences less a chronology than a circular dyanamism. Dawson quickly catches on, moving away from time-keeping in favor of maintaining the radiant glow. If there's a more inexhaustible performance on record, I haven't found it.
By Samuel Chell.
THE PANTHER! is an energized and energizing set from one of jazz's iconic saxophone players. With help from a rhythm section that includes bassist Larry Ridley, drummer Alan Dawson, and pianist Tommy Flanagan, Dexter Gordon works up a full head of steam on this classic date. Gordon was always less influenced by the avant garde than his contemporaries John Coltrane and Sonny Rollins, but his straightforward approach never detracts from his spectacular skill as an improviser.
Gordon contributes three strong originals here, but surprises by turning in a version of "Body and Soul" that actually hangs in there with Coleman Hawkins's definitive recording. Gordon makes it work thanks to his impressive control, robust tone, and inventive play within the melody. The rest of the date matches up to this highlight, making THE PANTHER! a fine choice for jazz die-hards and initiates alike.
From CD Universe.
Dexter Gordon- (Tenor Sax)
Tommy Flanagan- (Piano)
Larry Ridley- (Bass)
Alan Dawson- (Drums)
A1. The Panther  6:21
A2. Body and Soul  10:45
A3. Valse Robin  5:48
B1. Mrs. Miniver  7:28
B2. The Christmas Song  5:15
B3. The Blues Walk  7:15

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