Dexter Gordon

The Art of the Ballad

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Part of Fantasy's The Art of the Ballad repackaging series, the Dexter Gordon volume has a limited window of opportunity, a period when the massive man was living in Europe and had only a fleeting presence in America at most. Nevertheless, he was still in fine, majestic form in those years, from which this CD takes nine samplings. Though the material mostly consists of standard ballads with acoustic hard bop combos, Gordon was not completely oblivious to the times, and those moments frankly are the high points of the disc. He takes on two folk tunes turned Top 40 hits, "Those Were the Days" and "The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face," turning in deeply felt, soulful performances with both, and "Some Other Spring," live from Montreux, has lovely electric piano and electric bass backing. Nearly half of these tracks, including the latter two mentioned above, have not been previously reissued on CD, so Gordon fans who have junked their turntables may want to have this around until the entire catalog reappears.

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