Name at birth: Dexter Keith Gordon
Dexter "Long Tall Dexter" Gordon was one of the most famous tenor sax players of the 20th century, a towering figure of bop jazz (literally -- he was 6' 5" tall). He began his professional career as a teenager, playing in the 1940s with the bands of Lionel Hampton, Louis Armstrong and Billy Eckstein. He moved to New York City and associated with Charlie Parker and Dizzy Gillespie, and in 1947 he recorded the popular sax battles "The Chase" and "The Duel." He is considered one of the first tenor sax players to develop a personal style in bop during the '50s, influenced by or influencing players such as Sonny Rollins and John Coltrane. After 1960 he spent most of his time in Europe, living in Denmark while touring and recording. In the '70s and '80s his popularity resurged in the U.S. and he returned for several successful tours. He reached audiences beyond the jazz world with his performance in the 1986 film 'Round Midnight, for which he earned an Oscar nomination as Best Actor (although it was generally agreed that he wasn't so much acting as playing himself). His albums include One Flight Up (1964), Dexter Plays Hot and Cool (1955) and Sophisticated Giant (1977).