The saxophonist Dexter Gordon, born 86 years ago on Friday, was one of the first big booming voices of the bebop age and a pretty big fella himself at 6 feet, 6 inches tall. Gordon played in Duke Ellington’s band in the early 1940s and then for Billy Eckstine before falling in with bop crowd that included Charlie Parker and Lester Young. He also was an influence on John Coltrane.
An expatriate in Paris and Cophenhagen for 15 years, Gordon also led his own quartet and returned to the U.S. for the last 15 years of his life. He died at the age of 67 in 1990.
Here he leads a live version of Loose Walk, a Sonny Stitt number. While the visual quality is a bit soft, the sound is the distinct, clear hard bop that exemplified Gordon’s long career: