The Count Basie rhythm section from the latter part of the 1930’s provided jazz with the modern rhythm section. The roots of this style go back to the Benny Moten Orchestra and Walter Page’s Blue Devils. Basie, together with drummer Joe Jones, bassist Walter Page, and guitarist Eddie Durham (later Freddie Green) helped bring about this monumental change. Modern jazz could not have evolved had it not been for Basie rhythm section. This rhythm section played in a light, yet propulsive manner that left ample space for the improvisers. Count Basie played in an abbreviated manner, unlike in the stride piano style. This allowed the bassist to maintain the pulse and become the primary timekeeper. Jo Jones’ use of the cymbals further lightened the sound and texture. Together with the rhythm guitar Basie’s rhythm section sounded as if was floating compared to many of his contemporaries.
Tenor saxophonist Dexter Gordon (1923-1990) started his career in Los Angeles in the early 1940’s. He was a product of what was referred to as the Central Avenue jazz scene. His first important job was playing with the Lionel Hampton band in the early 1940s and by 1944 he was performing with the bebop incubator known as the Billy Eckstine Orchestra. His early influences on the saxophone include Lester Young, Don Byas, and Charlie Parker. Dexter was one of the first true bebop tenor players and set the standard for the instrument throughout the 1940’s and early 1950’s.
Dexter Gordon - Episode 1
The recordings on this podcast include his important 1947 records made in Los Angeles and New York.
For Regulars Only
Lester Young and Count Basie
I Got Rhythm
Don Byas and Slam Stewart
Charlie Parker and the Dizzy Gillespie Quintet
Chase, Part 1 & 2
Dexter Gordon and Wardell Gray
Dexter Gordon Quartet
Dexter Gordon Quintet
Dexter Gordon - Episode 2
By the early 1950’s Dexter Gordon’s sound and improvisational style made him one of the most recognizable saxophonists in jazz. His approach to playing has influenced generations of tenor saxophone players including people like John Coltrane, Sonny Rollins, and Stan Getz. This podcast will feature many of his most memorable Blue Note classic recordings from the early 1960’s and some from the 1970’s. Pay particular attention to the two versions of “Body and Soul.”
The saxophone is a relatively new instrument invented in the 1840’s by a Belgian instrument maker by the name of Adolphe Sax. The instrument emerged in the United States at the turn of 20th century and was popular in the large marching and concert bands of the period. The dance/jazz band musicians adopted the instrument in the early 1920’s. The saxophone represented everything that was new and different and became a symbol for American popular music in the 1920’s and 1930’s.
Classic Tenors - Episode 1
It took jazz musicians to show us its potential, starting with the C melody sax and eventually the great tenor and alto players in the 1920’s. The tenor sax in the hands of Coleman Hawkins, Ben Webster, Chu Berry, and Lester Young represent jazz at its best from this era. On this podcast I will play excerpts of Coleman Hawkins and Ben Webster, both originally from the Kansas City area.
Body and Soul
Sugar Foot Stomp
Coleman Hawkins and Fletcher Henderson
Ben Webster and Duke Ellington
Ben Webster and Duke Ellington
Ben Webster with Bennie Moten
Classic Tenors - Episode 2
On this continuation of the previous podcast I will examine the playing of two other great 1930’s era tenor saxophonists, Leon “Chu” Berry and the inimitable Lester Young. Both of these great tenor plays left a great legacy, but in hindsight it might be said that Lester Young left the largest footprint of these four classic tenor giants.