I’ve always been a huge fan of the saxophone, and saxophonist Dexter Gordon (Feb. 27, 1923-April 25, 1990) was one of my favorite artists. Can you imagine being the role model and inspiration to such greats as John Coltrane and Sonny Rollins??!! That’s as great a notch in one’s belt as anything. Take a deep breath and inhale one of his greatest offerings, The Other Side Of ‘Round Midnight (1985), recorded during the filming of “‘Round Midnight” (a movie in which he starred). Unfortunately, as awesome as this offering was/is, Dexter Gordon did not appear on all of the tracks listed.
Ornette Coleman (March 9, 1930 – June 11, 2015), in 1988, offered up perhaps one of his best recordings, Something Else!!!!. Interestingly enough, Free Jazz: A Collective Improvisation (1960), which was as well-received as it was unfavorably reviewed, earned him the moniker of “principal founder” of the genre “free jazz”. Like Dexter Gordon and others, his music was often infused with musical phrases derived from others including classical composers – again, favorable as well as frowned upon.
Rounding out this short list of essentials comes Argentine saxophonist Gato Barbieri (November 28, 1932 – April 2, 2016). If you’re from the Philly area and was fond of WJJZ and its Smooth Jazz format, you may remember his greatest hit, Europa (Earth’s Cry, Heaven’s Smile). The song (written by and first recorded by Carlos Santana) comes from the offering Caliente! (1976). When Barbieri’s tune was played on Philadelphia’s WJJZ, most of us glanced at the clock to see if it really was 7pm – it was the station’s theme song for the 7pm Deejay. I still glance, as do my children! And, yes – “Gato” means “cat”, favored slang term for the greats of jazz.
Jazz, jazz, and nothing but jazz. Well, . . . mostly.
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