Dexter Gordon

More Power!

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Dexter Gordon's return Stateside resulted in the tenor participating in his first studio sessions in nearly a decade. Not only would his April 1969 confab with James Moody (tenor sax), Barry Harris (piano), Buster Williams (bass), and Albert "Tootie" Heath (drums) yield this long player, but its predecessor/companion Tower of Power! as well. Things get off to a hectic start with both Moody and Gordon front and center on Tadd Dameron's "Lady Bird." Things get a bit overwhelming as the two tenors go horn-to-horn with Miles Davis' "Half Nelson" thrown into the mix. Otherwise, it is a fun rendition that finds Gordon quoting Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov's "Flight of the Bumblebee" within his extended extemporaneous leads. Moody then counters in an exceedingly soulful manner. He demonstrates his remarkable depth, dexterity and melodic sensibilities. One of the highlights of the project is the slight stylistic diversion on the update of Antonio Carlos Jobim's timeless "Meditation (Meditação)." The uncomplicated, yet exquisite horn lines rival that of sax samba guru Stan Getz. It also begs the question why Gordon didn't venture into Latin rhythms with any degree of frequency. "Fried Bananas" is a rousing recycling of Rodgers & Hart's "It Could Happen to You." The trend of reconfiguring Great American Songbook standards subsequently resurfaces on "Boston Bernie," but more about that in a moment. Back to "Fried Bananas" briefly to point out the charming interaction between Gordon and Heath as the pair trade fours just prior to the conclusion. The bouncy and beguiling "Boston Bernie" bears a definite resemblance to the Jerome Kern classic "All the Things You Are." The syncopated setting does wonders to the tune, creating an avenue for Gordon's catchy and expressive performance. "Sticky Wicket" concludes More Power! with Moody and Gordon blending together one last time. Moody merely accompanies his fellow tenor as they blow in tandem during the opening and closing. Debatably, the approach comes off more cohesively than the alternate of the number that initially surfaced on the Blue Dex: Dexter Gordon Plays the Blues compile. Other outtakes from these dates can be located on Gordon's authoritative Complete Prestige Recordings (2004) box set. It hosts previously unearthed renderings of "Lady Bird," an arguably superior "Boston Bernie," as well as the Michael Carr cut "Dinner for One Please, James," which Nat Cole had a modicum of success with.

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