Dexter Gordon: Copenhagen Coda

Standout 1983 Copenhagen session by a sometimes unreliable player, featuring Kirk Lightsey, David Eubanks and Eddie Gladden

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As its title suggests, this was Dexter’s last session after many years in Copenhagen. More than ever one can feel that huge in-person magnetism that drew his listeners back time and again. His easy and relaxed way of expressing himself was unique in jazz and, despite his unfortunate spells of incarceration in his earlier years, one wonders if he had perhaps got his formula for life right. Here, Dexter is palpably playing well and with great enthusiasm.

Lightsey’s often-repeated chord at the beginning and end of It’s You Or No One is a bit aggressive as a setting for such a sublime tenor performance. Eddie Gladden is a good drummer, and he sounds as though he’d had lots of experience in backing Dexter. The excellent Eubanks is slightly over-miked in relation to the piano, which makes the bass a bit too prominent at times.

Gordon had an immunity to time and numbers could run to over half an hour. Here they’re comparatively short, lasting between 11 minutes and, with More Than You Know, nearly 19. I think that’s too indulgent and halving the solo times would have been better. By the time the piano and bass have soloed one’s forgotten the name of the tenor player.

Going to hear Dexter could be hit and miss, for he was apparently sometimes drunk and incapable of giving the customers value for their money. No chance of that here and, whatever impelled him, this was a standout performance.

Discography
It’s You Or No One; Hanky Panky; More Than You Know; Backstairs (57.01)
Gordon (ts); Kirk Lightsey (p); David Eubanks (b); Eddie Gladden (d). Copenhagen, 2 February 1983.
Storyville Records 1018489