The Classic Blue Note Recordings
The first Gordon album I heard was Our Man In Paris (Blue Note, 1963). It featured mostly standards -- as was typical of the era -- but it was the sheer confidence and forceful execution of Gordon's horn playing that captured my attention. The album is also driven by the incomparable Bud Powell on piano along with Pierre Michelot (bass) and Kenny Clarke (drums) filling out an exciting rhythm section. This was a sort of comeback album for Gordon as he was slowly rebuilding his career in Paris at the time, though he never truly lost his chops.
Gordon's career with Blue Note was stellar. There is a wealth of albums that are worth owning but I think most people should really gravitate to a great collection, entitled The Classic Blue Note Recordings. This is covers a good chunk of albums recorded between '61- '65 and includes a lot of the best known recordings. Gordon was incredibly prolific during this period. His playing was fully bodied and emotionally in tune with every note. For me its felt no clearer than on the lovely and powerful "I'm A Fool To Want You" and the one of the best versions of "Don't Explain" you'll hear (next to the original from Billie Holiday). I don't think many people could go wrong with this one.
Dexter Gordon would continue recording some very consistant and always amazing records for the next 3 decades. He made stellar comback in the late '70s with true document of jazz Homecoming: Live At The Village Vanguard (Columbia) which would send his career to yet another level of success. He would later go on to star as a jazz musician in the movie 'Round Midnight which also garnered an Academy Award nomination. A musician who has performed and influenced generations of future legends, Dexter Gordon's career is one of beauty and distinction that is almost unpararlleled. The Classic Blue Note Recordings is the perfect place for you to start to hear a legend in his prime.