Sophisticated Giant: The Life and Legacy of Dexter Gordon

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Date & Time: 
Thursday, February 14, 2019 7:00pm

The Center for Jazz Studies at Columbia University

In collaboration with IRAAS

Sophisticated Giant: The Life and Legacy of Dexter Gordon

A book talk with
Maxine Gordon and guests

George Cables with Dwight Andrews, Farah Jasmine Griffin, Robert G. O’Meally & Salim Washington

Sophisticated Giant presents the life and legacy of tenor saxophonist Dexter Gordon (1923–1990), one of the major innovators of modern jazz. In a context of biography, history, and memoir, Maxine Gordon has completed the book that her late husband began, weaving his “solo” turns with her voice and a chorus of voices from past and present. Reading like a jazz composition, the blend of research, anecdote, and a selection of Dexter’s personal letters reflects his colorful life and legendary times. It is clear why the celebrated trumpet genius Dizzy Gillespie said to Dexter, “Man, you ought to leave your karma to science.”

Dexter Gordon—the icon—is the Dexter who is now known and beloved and celebrated, on albums and on film and in jazz lore—even in a street named for him in Copenhagen. But this image of the cool jazzman fails to come to terms with the three-dimensional man full of humor and wisdom, a figure who struggled to reconcile being both a creative outsider who broke the rules and a comforting insider who was a son, father, husband, and world citizen. This essential book is an attempt to fill in the gaps, the gaps created by our misperceptions, but also the gaps left by Dexter himself.

Thursday, February 14, 2019,  7pm
Prentis Hall, Room 101
632 West 125th Street
New York, NY 10027
Between Broadway & Riverside Drive

Books will be available for purchase

This event is free and open to the public but a RSVP is required.
Please email or call 212-851-9270 to secure your seat.


CJS public programming is made possible in part through the generous support of the Louis Armstrong Educational Foundation and the Ford Foundation.
For more information about the Center for Jazz Studies activities, please visit or call 212-851-9270