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Sax Education

June 13, 1987

In his review of "Machito: A Latin Jazz Legacy," Michael Wilmington referred to Dexter Gordon as "ineffable" (" 'Machito': The Legacy of a Latin Beat," June 8). Previously, Sheila Benson, in her review of " 'Round Midnight," called his tone "ravishing."

Dexter Gordon is not an innovator like Coleman Hawkins or Lester Young. He is not an improviser like Young, not expressive like John Coltrane, not a master of his instrument like his idol (indeed, teacher) Don Byas. He is a competent, professional jazz musician: a hack.

Ineffable? What was Charlie Parker? Beyond ineffable? Ravishing tone? Compared to Benny Golson, Lucky Thompson, Byas? My words would have been enervated, unfocused, out of tune.

Perhaps, in the future, The Times would be better advised to assign a jazz critic to report on jazz events, even those on film.

DAVID M. SHERR

Santa Monica

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