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Classicsonline Home » Artists » » Gordon, Dexter

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Dexter Gordon (1923 - 1990)


Dexter Keith Gordon was born on February 27, 1923, in Los Angeles, California. He began his study of music with the clarinet at age 13, then switched to the alto saxophone at 15 and finally to the tenor saxophone at 17. He studied music with Lloyd Reese and at Jefferson High School with Sam Browne, both of whom also taught Charles Mingus and Chico Hamilton. In his last year of high school, he received a call from alto saxophonist Marshall Royal asking him to join the Lionel Hampton Band. He left Los Angeles with the band, traveling down South and learning to play from fellow band members Illinois Jacquet and Marshall Royal. In January 1941, the band played at the Grand Terrace in Chicago for six months and the radio broadcasts made there were his first recordings.

It was in 1943 while in New York City with Hampton’s band that Dexter sat in at Minton’s Playhouse with Ben Webster and Lester Young. This was to be one of the most important moments in his long musical career. As he put it, “people started to take notice.” Back in Los Angeles in 1943, Dexter played mainly with Lee Young (Lester Young’s brother) and with Jesse Price, plus a few weeks with the Fletcher Henderson Orchestra. At an after-hours club in Los Angeles in 1944, Louis Armstrong approached him and said, “Hey, son, I like that tone you’ve got.” All he could say was, “Thank you, Mr. Armstrong.” Dexter joined Armstrong’s band and traveled playing mostly Army camps from May until December.

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Discography



Brass Ensemble Music – 19th Century Composers



 

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