Dexter Gordon "Our Man in Paris" (Blue Note, US (First Edition !), 1963) NM/VG++
"Though he never went as far out or pushed the bounds of composition or his instrument like his contemporaries John Coltrane or Eric Dolphy, Dexter Gordon has become somewhat lost in the shuffle of great jazz saxophonists despite possessing some of the most imminently pleasant lyricism in his playing. And nowhere in his catalog is that particularly melodic genius more evident than perhaps this album's opener, "Scrapple in the Apple," a fast-paced shuffle that's all energy and Gordon blasting his way through windy, complicated lines. The rhythm section is every bit as furious as Gordon here, though, and Bud Powell in particular shines on both his interplay with Gordon through the piece's first half and then on his vertiginous solo about three-quarters of the way through. What makes the band even more impressive, though, is the way they deliver a piece that is in many ways "Scrapple"'s complete inverse with the very next track, "Willow Weep for Me." This sultry, slower number is another opportunity for Gordon to wow the listener with his lush tone and perfectly phrased melodies.
The B-side fills in three shades of grey between those stark black-and-white poles, with "Broadway" falling on the more energetic end of the spectrum, "Stairway to the Stars" the opposite, and closer "A Night in Tunisia" splitting the difference. Gordon and Powell, as expected, are fantastic throughout, but special mention should be made of Kenny Clarke fantastic drumming on the side's first and final tracks. While he'd been kept more or less in check on the first side he gets really loose on "Broadway," peppering his skins throughout the run, and when he gets a chance to really let go on a solo on that track and "A Night in Tunisia" he nearly steals the whole show. A fantastic hard bop album that I'd recommend to any fan of traditional, classy jazz."