Review Summary: The Pedigree.
"Jazz to me is a living music. It's a music that since its beginning has expressed the feelings, the dreams and hopes of the people..."
I guess, the capacity of a record to polarize fans, could find its analogy in a love or hate relation; in case though, one end of the argument reads great, and the other masterful - I could easily picture, jazz fans ranking Dexter Gordon’s Go within the pantheon of giants. Some may argue that by 1962, the hard bop present in this album won’t blow innovation, or the next giant leap towards improvisational integration, but let me ask - does great innovation rank as the only prerequisite for great art... or excellent music if you may?
Some might point out, that all pieces of art that came to be considered classic, offered a major breakthrough at the time of their release. On the other hand, the impact of art on posterior generations, and by that I mean subsequent artists being influenced, may also offer hard proof towards the original’s classification. However, the ability of art to speak, to be accessible for the commoner, or to be his voice - for some reason, doesn’t seem to carry the same weight over the former argument.
“Cheese Cake”, is the only original Dexter tune present here; a minor two-five approach that could easily fit in place with Coltrane’s “Mr. Pc”, or if you prefer, “Mr. Pc” could certainly sound in place, with Dexter’s “Go”. If I am not mistaken the tune found its way to later renditions of the Real Book. Coltrane, named Dexter Gordon as one of his major influences during the early 50s, and Dexter Gordon admitted being influenced by Coltrane from late 50s onward. What does the ability, of one being influenced by a former “student” of his, reveal about the qualities of the artist, or the human being to be exact? So, I don’t think Dexter gave a damn about someone classifying his work as great, superb, masterful… Furthermore, I don’t think he went into recording this album, with a mind frame indicating: I feel the urge to place the next missing piece, in the puzzle of improvisational landscapes.
Dexter Gordon just wanted to evolve and play, or evolve while playing - to live his life playing the tenor sax. You see, he was the son of a doctor - one of the first African American doctors in L.A. So, I guess he learned by example that as a black cat in segregated USA, one had to work ten times hard in order to gain recognition; he left shortly after this recording, for a place where at least he wasn’t required, to present innovative credentials every time he blew the tenor - six feet four inches over the ground that was. Let us not forget, one of Dexter’s great influences was a cat named Lester Young, and someone named Duke Ellington was a client of his father; he never underestimated the power of accessibility, provided by phrasing being danceable. Love for sale some may think, but Dexter’s behind the beat pedigree could make you move, even at “Three o’clock in the morning”, at a Copenhagen club… thousand of miles away from certain crowds - I will mention shortly.
Pianist Sonny Clark, bassist Butch Warren and Billy Higgins on drums, all proficient bop musicians, complete this 1962 outfit and they sound more than happy doing so. That being said, there is a certain “minority” finding “Go’s” idiosyncrasy too happy, clichéd... overrated - or even cheesy. You should know, a niche crowd exists within the jazz community, which doesn’t take kindly of jazz recordings being accessible to commoners; most of them don’t know how to play an instrument.
Dexter blows his answer to them, by the last note on “Second Balcony Jump”. Go then!
or do yourself a favor and Go find this album. One of Dexter’s best if you ask me; if you are not into jazz - this may be a great place to start.