Dexter Gordon– The Panther!

This, to me, is a cooler image of the cover than the standard CD graphic.

And it’s the exclamation point that really makes the cover, I think.

I usually don’t like tenor guys albums after a certain age, often their late 40s (Arnett Cobb excepted), but this is Gordon in 1970 (age 47), the point past which most guys don’t particularly change. Sometimes, sure– but overall, rarely.

Though there are technically six songs, for your money there are really only three: tracks two, “Body and Soul,” three, “Valse Robin,” and six, “Blues Walk.”

These tracks, although the whole album’s fine enough in itself, it’s Gordon after all, are very cool in and of themselves –spry though wise, playful yet serious– and are fun regardless of which era of Gordon’s you like.

So DIG, Iceburg Slim:

“Body and Soul” is particularly interesting because Gordon said later in interviews that he was modelling this particular version of “B &S” off of Coltrane’s version:

Now compare and contrast this version with the 17-minute version of Gordon’s youth, which presumably is influenced to at least some degree by Coleman Hawkins’ famous 1939 version–

–it’s a cool barometer of his changes as a player over 31 years (whatever conclusion that may lead to you to).

“Valse Robin,” whatever that means, is a fun harmonic minor-sometimes melody that  manages, overall, to resound like a Disney-sinister Evil Carnival melody: a Ray Bradbury-Something Wicked This Way Comes-Damn-Jason-Robards-Actually-Can-Seem-Fucking-Evil-Although-Maybe-Only-To-A-Preadolescent level of haunting-daunting malicious intent… a subtle undertone of murder or bloodlust or both….

Sorta like, the State Fair you just went to dun got all evil on ya and shit….

And yet, even with this subtle malice, it’s still kinda funny and cool and… alllllright….

IF… ya feel me….

AND, interestingly, it may sound kinda trite at first, but there’s something particularly special about the “Valse Robin” melody (forget what we were actually talking about, didncha?), and it actually worms its way into the “Classic” section of your musical brain the more you listen to it….

As a classic, It Endures, i.e..

“Blues Walk,” finally, is just what it sounds like, but considering the consider innovations he brought to “Body & Soul,” enjoy the similar improvements hoisted on yer’ typical I-IV-V….

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