Dexter Gordon (February 27, 1923, Los Angeles – April 25, 1990, Philadelphia) was an American tenor saxophonist. He is considered one of the first bebop tenor saxophonists. A photo from 1948, taken during a performance at The Royal Roost, shows him smoking a cigarette. This photo would later become one of the icons in the history of jazz. Gordon was a large man over 6 feet tall, hence his nickname Long Tall Dexter. In 1986 he was nominated for an Oscar for his role in the film Round Midnight. Life and work[edit | edit source text] Gordon was born and raised in Los Angeles. His father was a doctor there and had Duke Ellington and Lionel Hampton as patients. Dexter learned to play the clarinet at the age of thirteen, before switching to saxophone (first alto, then tenor) two years later. He was still in school when he played in orchestras with contemporaries such as Chico Hamilton and Buddy Collette. Between 1940 and 1943, Gordon was a member of Lionel Hampton’s orchestra, where he was in the saxophone section with Illinois Jacquet and Marshall Royal. He made his first recordings under his own name in 1943, alongside Nat Cole and Harry Edison. He also made guest appearances with the orchestras of Louis Armstrong and Fletcher Henderson before joining Billie Eckstine. In 1945 he left Eckstine’s orchestra and began performing in New York, where he recorded with Charlie Parker as well as under his own name. Gordon became best known as a virtuoso through his saxophone duels with his friend and tenor saxophonist Wardell Gray. These duels attracted a lot of attention and left their mark on a number of albums between 1947 and 1952. Dexter Gordon’s live performance in Amsterdam in 1980 shows the audience a tenor saxophonist whose sound is broad and spacious, partly due to his imposing physique. His tendency to play just a little after the beat is also remarkable. He cites Lester Young as one of his main influences. In turn, he influenced the younger John Coltrane in the 1940s and 1950s. There is a clear interaction between the two tenor saxophonists. After all, Coltrane’s way of playing would also influence Dexter Gordon from the mid-1950s onwards. Significant similarities between their playing styles include: bright, strong, metallic tones, their tendency to bend high notes upward, and their ability to swing short tongue-articulated notes. One of Gordon’s quirks was to sing a song before playing it, a trick he learned from Lester Young.