Über Dexter Gordon
A widely reproduced photograph of Dexter Gordon sums up jazz in a single image -- the great saxophonist is lost in the music, with his instrument at rest and a stream of smoke rising from his cigarette. Gordon's own music always created the same state of reverie, mixing Lester Young's cool lyricism with Charlie Parker's bop innovations; forming his own unique sound in the process. Like Paul Desmond, Gordon quoted different songs -- as well as bits of other artists' solos -- at strategic spots during both his frenzied swingers and devastating ballads. He spent most of the '50s in jail on narcotics charges before releasing a series of stunning albums on Blue Note in the '60s. Gordon caught the acting bug in prison and later received an Academy Award nomination for his leading role in Round Midnight. Consumed with illness at the time, his playing was in serious decline but still held flashes of its former brilliance.