Samuel Chell | Kenosha,, WI United States | 09/04/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Stop! Time! Enough! Moratorium! That's what I've been telling myself since CD's started becoming as much of a space and storage problem in my digs as LP's. I don't need another Sonny Stitt record, or for that matter another Van Gelder-engineered Blue Note date. I'm going to sell them on Ebay and donate the proceeds to the Red Cross.
But then I picked up yet another recording by the master storyteller of them all, Mr. Long Tall. This time he's not only one flight above every other musical narrator on the planet: he's delivering his soul-stirring message from Mt. Sinai. Doesn't matter which of the four tracks you single out: Dexter is equally inspired on each, spinning out stories that proceed from one climax to the next, "nailing" you with each carefully aimed musical word. His rhetoric is so compelling it doesn't matter if you recognize all of his serendipitous quotes: they become part of the total fabric of his sermon.
Although this album has acquired a semi-cult following because of Dexter's marathon solo on "Tanya" (hear Kurt Elling's equally amazing transcription on "The Messenger"), his contructions on the alternate harmonies of "Darn That Dream" are no less impressive. And if you need further evidence of Dexter's command, "King Neptune" provides that and more--bassist Nils Orsted Pederson and drummer Art Taylor following the Tower of Power with the hardest swinging sounds on the date.
I only pity a Donald Byrd, a Kenny Drew, or any instrumentalist that has to follow L.T. On the other hand, in air this rarefied it doesn't hurt to have a chance to catch your breath."
"One Flight Up" One Step Down
Michael B. Richman | Portland, Maine USA | 09/14/2004
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Within the past year, Blue Note has reissued a number of classic Dexter Gordon albums via its RVG series including "Doin' Allright," "Dexter Calling" and "Our Man in Paris" (see my reviews). EMI continues this trend with this CD, a remastered version of "One Flight Up." Originally recorded in Paris, Dex's June 2, 1964 effort was made, not under the watchful eye of Alfred Lion and Rudy Van Gelder, but instead by business partner Francis Wolff. It features the great tenor saxophonist in a quintet setting with trumpeter Donald Byrd, pianist Kenny Drew, bassist Niels-Henning Orsted Pedersen, and drummer Art Taylor. The album's centerpieces are two extended compositions, Donald Byrd's "Tanya" and Kenny Drew's "Coppin' The Haven," both of which are, in my opinion, an attempt to follow-up on the success of Herbie Hancock's "Takin' Off," where Dex put in a rare appearance as a sideman. It is a combination that is enjoyable, but the second time around it doesn't seem altogether tailor-made for Dex's sound, particularly now that he is in the leadership role. In fact, he seems more himself on the standard "Darn That Dream" and his own "Kong Neptune," a bonus track not included on the original LP (but featured on the first CD incarnation of this album). One wonders if Lion didn't feel the same way, as the following year he brought Gordon back to the States to record his next Blue Note sessions, "Gettin' Around" and what would eventually be released as "Clubhouse." In all, "One Flight Up" is a perfectly good jazz disc, but it is definitely one step down from the likes of "A Swingin' Affair" and "Go.""
"My God, that classic, classic bassline to Tanya still resonates in my soul today, these many years later. As well, Dex's blowing on "Darn That Dream" still gets me all emotional and teary to this day.
What happens when you combine one of the greatest ever jazz tenormen along with the most underrated trumpeter this side of Miles ? Pure and utter magic."
I can't get enough of 'Tanya'!
Frizzante | 10/31/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"'Tanya', the first number on this excellent album, runs for 18 minutes. I first heard this tune whilst watching Ken Burn's "Jazz" documentary. It has stuck in my head since then; I simply adore it.
Tanya was written by hard bop trumpeter Donald Byrd, who accompanies Dexter in this performance. They play together to begin with and then each solos through this mesmerizing and hypnotic tune. The splendour of the trumpet and tenor saxophone as instruments is on full display here.
Let's not forget the album includes some of Dexters favourites in the Rhythm section; Kenny Drew on Piano, Art Taylor on Drums and Neils-Hennig Orsted Pedersen on Bass.
An excellent album as a whole, or to listen to 'Tanya' alone."
Contentious view of Tanya
M. Smyth | 12/07/2008
(4 out of 5 stars)
"While I agree with the high-praise of the other reviewers, I can't help but think that minor elements knock it down a notch.
It is a given that Dexter is the consummate "heavy" and typically brilliant on this date. He is magical throughout with his innovative, (seemingly) effortless, and confidently hip solos.
One simple critique is the brevity; only 4 songs, which is not a big deal except that the standard "Darn That Dream" is close to filler if not for the quality of Dexter's solo. In fact, the liner notes tell us the original album had only 3 tunes having dropped "Kong Neptune" as being a dud. Also, in my view, "Tanya" is a bit too long.
My issue with "Tanya" is this: Yes, it is a great theme, but with this type of hard-bop, bluesy modal music, it can sound like movie soundtrack music at 18 minutes unless there is enough dynamic variation or abstract playing. While the younger Byrd contributed the vogue modal piece, Dexter preferred a fairly traditional interpretation and was not interested in any Coltrane-influenced explorations. As good as he is, why would he? It's just that the form, at least in retrospect, seems to call for it. It is unfair, but I can't help but think that an 18-minute tune like this would fly by with Elvin Jones, McCoy Tyner, and Lee Morgan filling-in for these capable and steady cats. Perhaps restraint and subtlety are everything?
Otherwise, "Coppin' the Haven" tilts the scales making One Flight Up a brilliant addition to any collection. "