New biography of Dexter Gordon reveals life and legacy of bebop giant

The world-renowned, Oscar-nominated tenor saxophonist Dexter Gordon is often described as a tenor genius. Travelling across the US in the 1940s when the world was at war and segregation still in place, Gordon later ended up in prison both in the US and in France. In his final years he had started to write his autobiography, wanting to correct some misconceptions about his life and music. Today his widow Maxine Gordon has completed what he began. She joined us for Perspective.


In "Sophisticated Giant", Maxine Gordon adds details that Dexter Gordon may have left out - notably the 1950s, a decade her husband wanted to forget. It was a time when he was repeatedly imprisoned.

In order to complete the biography, Maxine Gordon even fact-checked anecdotes in order to be certain of the truth. The end result is a book that discusses not just the music but the lifestyle of jazz, as well as the reality of racism in the United States at the time.

Daily newsletterReceive essential international news every morning