Dexter Gordon

Jazz Saxophonist

Dexter Gordon was an American jazz tenor saxophonist and an Academy Award-nominated actor (Round Midnight, Warner Bros, 1986). He is regarded as one of the first and most important musicians to adapt the bebop musical language of people like Charlie Parker, Dizzy Gillespie, and Bud Powell to the tenor saxophone. His studio and live performance career were both extensive and multifaceted, spanning over 50 years in recorded jazz history.… Read More

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Learn about the memorable moments in the evolution of Dexter Gordon.


1923 Birth Dexter Keith Gordon was born on February 27, 1923 in Los Angeles, California. … Read More


1940 17 Years Old Between December 1940 and 1943, Gordon was a member of Lionel Hampton's band, playing in a saxophone section alongside Illinois Jacquet and Marshal Royal. … Read More


1943 20 Years Old In 1943 he was featured, alongside Harry "Sweets" Edison, in recordings under Nat Cole for a small label not affected by the strike.
1944 21 Years Old By late 1944, Gordon was resident in New York and a featured soloist in the Billy Eckstine big band (If That's The Way You Feel, I Want To Talk About You, Blowin' the Blues Away, Opus X, I'll Wait And Pray, The Real Thing Happened To Me, Lonesome Lover Blues, I Love the Rhythm in a Riff), and later was featured on recordings by Dizzy Gillespie (Blue 'n' Boogie, Groovin' High) and Sir Charles Thompson (Takin' Off, If I Had You, 20th Century Blues, The Street Beat).
1945 22 Years Old 1 More Event
By late 1945 he was recording under his own name for the Savoy label.
By mid-1947, he was in Los Angeles, recording for Ross Russell's Dial label (Mischievous Lady, Lullaby in Rhythm, The Chase, Iridescence, It's the Talk of the Town, Bikini, A Ghost of a Chance, Sweet and Lovely).
1949 26 Years Old By 1949, Gordon was again based in Los Angeles. … Read More
1952 29 Years Old The Chase And The Steeplechase, from February 1952, was the last recording of Gordon with Wardell Gray.


1953 30 Years Old After an incarceration at Chino Prison during 1953-55, he recorded the albums Daddy Plays the Horn and Dexter Blows Hot and Cool in 1955 and played as a sideman on the Stan Levey album, This Time the Drum's on Me.
1959 36 Years Old 1 More Event
The latter part of the decade saw him in and out of prison until his final release from Folsom Prison in 1959.
1960 37 Years Old 1 More Event
He recorded The Resurgence of Dexter Gordon in 1960. … Read More
1961 38 Years Old Gordon signed to Blue Note Records in 1961. … Read More


1976 53 Years Old Gordon finally returned to the United States for good in 1976. … Read More
1978 55 Years Old 1 More Event
In addition to the Homecoming album, a series of live albums was released by Blue Note from his stands at Keystone Corner in San Francisco during 1978 and 1979. … Read More


1986 63 Years Old 1 More Event
In 1986, he was named a member and officer of the French Order of Arts and Letters by the Ministry of Culture in France. … Read More
1987 64 Years Old …  He was a sideman on Tony Bennett's 1987 album, Berlin.
1990 67 Years Old 1 More Event
In addition, he had a non-speaking role in the 1990 film Awakenings, which was posthumously released.
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