TESTOSTERONE-TONED TENORS…Dexter Gordon: The Resurgence of Dexter Gordon From Los Angeles to York, Sal Nistico Quartet: Live At Carmelos 1981, Lucky Thompson: In Paris 1960

The two cd set of Dexter Gordon captures him right at the start of his famed comeback, with a 1960 release from the Jazzland label  and then two others from ’61 with Blue Note Records. Fresh out on parole, Gordon sounds strong and fresh for this collection of songs associated with the play The Connection. Gordon’s more of a teammate than a leader here with Martin Banks/tp, Richard Boone/tb, Dolo Coker/p, Charles Green/b and Lawrence Marable/dr for the tricky “Home Run” whereas he sounds comfortable back in the spotlight on the bouncy “Lovely Lisa” and the exotic “Dolo.” The two Blue Note albums are absolute classics. Gordon teams perfectly  with Freddie Hubbard/tp, Horace Parlan/p, George Tucker/b and Al Harwood/dr for the lyrical “I Was Doing All Right” and the iconic “Society Red” which was featured in Gordon’s movie role for ‘Round Midnight. His tenor fills the room on “You’ve Changed” and on the quartet date with Kenny Drew/p, Paul Chambers/b and Philly Joe Jones” goes bel canto on “I Want More,” “End of a Love Affair” and “Smile.” The biceps were pumping here!
Sal Nistico had an impressive career with Woody Herman’s Big Band, but for 5 bucks and a two drink minimum, you could see him with his own band of Frank Strazzeri/p, Frank De La Rosa/b and John Dentz/dr at the hip LA club Carmelo’s. The place sat maybe 75 people, and it sounds  PACKED as Nestico infuses John Coltranesque harmonics along with a Lester Young styled swing on pieces like “Lester Leaps In” and “You Stepped Out of A Dream.” His ballad sound delivers an aria on “My Old Flame” while the rhythm team sizzles and the sparks fly on “Bolivia” and Equinox.”  Strazzeri gets a chance in the spotlight on a lovely “Close Enough For Love” while the team volleys like Connors and John McEnroe on “Sweet George Brown.” Don’t leave town without this guy!
Last  year a ton of historical material by the overlooked Lucky Thompson finally saw the light of day,and this collection of Parisian gigs from 1960 feature the hard swinging saxist in some hip settings, ranging from trio to octet. A rhythm team of Kenny Clarke/dr, Pierre Michelot/b and Martial Solal/p provide the foundation for finger snapping “Check Out Time” and “Nothin’ But the Soul with added husky vocals by Thelma Thompson on “While You Are Gone” and a bluesy  “Yesterday’s Bottle. ” A gig including the horns of Lenny Johnson/tp, Jimmy Cleveland/tb, Jo Hrasko/as, Marcel Hrasko and Thompson have the team cruising like a B8 on “Bitter Sweet,” “Home Free” and a richly harmonized “Yesterdays” with Thompson switching to soprano on the latter, while he sounds exquisite with a pre married to Coltrane Alice McLeod/p, Pierre Michelot/b and Clarke/dr on a wondrous “Lover Man.” You can never get enough of this guy; each find gets better.
All of the sets include session information as well as richly rewarding notes that put the artist and albums in proper perspective.
 Fresh Sound Records

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