Born on February 27, 1923, Dexter Gordon® (1923-1990) was an American jazz tenor saxophonist who recorded hundreds of albums throughout his lifetime and was among the most influential musicians of the 20th century. Gordon’s influence came to personify the very sound of the tenor saxophone in as early as the 1940s through his collaborations with such luminaries as Louis Armstrong, Lionel Hampton, Charlie Parker, Dizzy Gillespie, and Billy Eckstine, providing a foundational influence that helped shape the music of such later pioneers as John Coltrane, Sonny Rollins, and countless other legends since. Gordon is the first jazz musician, and the fifth-ever African American, to be nominated for an Academy Award – for Best Actor in a Leading Role in the French Warner Bros. film, Round Midnight (1986).
The Dexter Gordon® Centennial Project is a year-long celebration of the life and legacy of musical icon Dexter Gordon® beginning on the 100th anniversary of his birth – on February 27, 2023 – and commencing throughout the remainder of this year. Organized by The Dexter Gordon® Society, Inc. the commemorative nonprofit preserving Gordon’s memory, the project will include events, publications, and initiatives designed to extend Gordon’s profound impact, serving as a source of inspiration and cultural enrichment, while guiding the next generation of visionary artists into the future.
Gordon’s memory will be commemorated this year through worldwide collaborations with venues throughout 2023. The first of these events, taking place on Gordon’s birthday itself (Monday, February 27, 2023) through an all-day 24-hour radio broadcast on Columbia University’s WKCR Radio, featuring select recordings from Gordon’s extensive discography and an interview with Maxine Gordon from 4PM to 6PM EST.
On March 3, 2023 at 7PM EST, the Cambridge Arts Council will then host a screening of Round Midnight at the Brattle theater in Cambridge, Massachusetts. For future events, visit dex100.org and follow latest news on Facebook and Instagram (@dextergordonofficial).
The Centennial Project will then proceed with an initiative which includes previously unreleased research, music, and documents from Gordon’s archive, culminating in a newly soon-to-be published book of rare materials not originally included in Gordon’s official biography, entitled “Dexter Gordon® Outtakes”, along with unreleased live recordings.
In 2010, The Dexter Gordon Society helped organize the acquisition of a large portion of Gordon’s historic private archive by the Library of Congress in a collection of over 7,000 of his personal and musical items (physical and digital). The Society plans to commence with preservation of such rare and historical items of Gordon’s rich private collection, along with physical and digital release and publication, and thus welcomes public support to continue these efforts so that it can make the many remaining elements of his legacy digitally accessible to artists, students, and researchers worldwide.
Remaining historic material for the centennial’s digitization and publication projects exists largely from existing research that did not make its way into Dexter Gordon’s award-winning biography, “Sophisticated Giant: The Life and Legacy of Dexter Gordon” (University of California Press, 2018), but which is now being primed for publication, and more. The biography’s author, Dexter Gordon’s wife and former manager and producer, Maxine Gordon, is currently completing a one-year Fellowship at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Studies at Harvard University.
For saxophonists of all cultures, ages, and styles, Gordon’s vast sonic influence continues to epitomize the highest of musical standards and to be emulated for the power and beauty of his sound, his sense of style, grace, and elegance, and as perhaps one of the most dignified examples of artistic excellence in recent music history.
Please Note: The estate of Dexter Gordon respectfully requests that any projects planned in Gordon’s memory first be formally approved in writing. For licensing and approvals, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Last modified: February 28, 2023