The Complete Trio & Quartet Studio Recordings 1974-76 Box set
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Dexter Gordon's complete trio and quartet studio recordings for SteepleChase made 1974-76 and gathered together in one 8 CD box set. Featuring Kenny Drew, Niels-Henning Ørsted Pedersen, Albert "Tootie" Heath, Horace Parlan, Billy Higgins, Tete Montoliu and others.
Most helpful customer reviews on Amazon.com
First of all, you can think of the 3 extra discs that the Prestige set has as basically live/festival performances. Which is a real shame because Steeplechase recorded Dexter's club shows and such to a degree that many critics felt he was over-recorded, and Steeplechase was flooding the market. They must have a good 2 dozen or so of his live albums for sale on their site. I just wish we could have had a taste of that here.
Secondly, there are no other horns present on these sessions. Just Dexter and variations on the p-b-d format. Too bad, because guys like Jackie McLean, Ben Webster, Johnny Griffin, etc. were living in Denmark and Europe at the time. McLean, for example shows up on quite a few of Dexter's live recordings. I've gotta believe he could have made it in the studio for a session. The Prestige set has all sorts of horns: Gene Ammons, Freddie Hubbard, James Moody...
Thirdly, the variety/sequence of the material is frankly quite wearing. This is a set that's hard to listen to for extended periods because you get at least two takes of a tune, but frequently three in a row. I counted 39 tunes out of 72 tracks. One is a spoken introduction, so 32 repeated tracks? That should tell you what you're in for. I counted 20 alts. out of 88 for the Prestige set, but they're never anywhere near each other so you hardly notice.
Finally, the packaging was a big disappointment for the Steeplechase box. Prestige puts two discs into a slim pop-out case, so the 6 cases and the booklet slide into a sturdy cardboard box. Nothing to show off, but if you've had to get a disc out of their 16 disc Coltrane set(after you've figured out where to put it), you know that this is a nice compromise. Let's just say the Danish think a bit differently. It sits not even half as tall in the cardboard pop-top because there are no protective plastic cases. That's right, a $120 set of cds comes across the Atlantic in loose paper sleeves!! How is this supposed to last? The only way I can figure not to scuff the discs is to bend the snot out of the paper, so either way something's gonna give. Disc 3 is skipping as I write this...I think these discs are really sensitive to fingerprints. But getting them out of the paper cleanly?
The bottom line is that this is really aimed at collectors - not the casual fan. Steeplechase knows that for $120, Americans are going to have a hard time beating it by just tracking down the albums they want. They have us and they know it. My advice: get this if you can't live without it. But if you're deciding between these two, jump on the Prestige set. And by the way, if you're looking at this because it promises Dexter on soprano, he plays it on one track: "In A Sentimental Mood".
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