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Bikini: Dexter Gordon [1947]

How this snarky, piano/sax driven bop number got its unusual name is almost as interesting as the tune itself. Most of the songs recorded for small jazz labels of this era had no titles when they were recorded--artists would simply record and then abdicate the naming process to producers. Some labels came up with inventive methods to find names for these songs. In addition to being a jazz entrepreneur, Dial Records founder Ross Russell was also a pulp fiction writer and record store owner. Occasionally he would ask patrons of his Hollywood California store, The Tempo Music Shop, for music title suggestions. Customers would convey their suggestions verbally to Russell or write their ideas down on slips of paper. Few of these suggestions were ever used, but two were applied to Dexter Gordon compositions: Chromatic Aberration and Bikini (both 1947). Of course, the word 'Bikini' had been in the news almost daily as a result of the Operation Crossroads tests on Bikini Atoll in 1946, so it isn't surprising that it would be applied to a piece of music or, for that matter, a certain skimpy bathing suit.

Jazz musician and composer Dexter Gordon was born in Los Angeles, California in 1923 and studied clarinet as a child. By his teens he had taken up the tenor saxophone, an instrument that he would play while working with Lionel Hampton beginning in 1940. In the early '40s Gordon played with Billy Eckstine, Louis Armstrong and Fletcher Henderson. It was in the mid-'40s that Gordon embraced bebop and became one of its best practitioners. Gordon's career was disrupted for much of the '50s due to his addiction to narcotics. The artist rebounded in the '60s and toured and recorded extensively into the '80s. In 1986 Gordon was nominated for an Oscar for his role as an aging jazz musician in the 1986 film ''Round Midnight.' Gordon died in 1990.

LYRICS/TRANSCRIPTION:
Bikini: Dexter Gordon [1947]

Jazz instrumental

Dexter Gordon [1947]
Bikini
(Gordon)
Dial 1022 / D-1087

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