June 11, 1928 – August 28, 1955
Bob Gordon was a fine West Coast bop-oriented baritonist. He played with Shorty Sherock (1946), Alvino Rey’s Orchestra (1948-51) and Billy May (1952) before becoming an in-demand session player for jazz dates with the likes of Shelly Manne, Maynard Ferguson, Chet Baker, Clifford Brown (1954), Shorty Rogers, Tal Farlow and Stan Kenton. While on his way to playing at a Pete Rugolo concert in San Diego, Bob Gordon was killed in a car accident. His lone album as a leader has been reissued by V.S.O.P. — Scott Yanow, All-Music Guide
Bob Gordon Album Covers
Bob Gordon was an inspiration to every jazz musician or aspirant who ever heard him play or was, perhaps, fortunate enough to share the bandstand with him; fortunate enough to partake of the fire that roared and the sparks that flew and the proclamations of the Gods that sounded when he put his big horn to his lips and made the world abound with life and zest and unbounded love. For the world was a better place to live in when he played and perhaps this singular ability to make it so was in itself his greatest gift.
Bob Gordon was a natural musician and not the least bit revolutionary, at least intentionally. He gave not a hang for those whose prime objectives are to affect or deliberately perpetrate change. For his sole purpose in life was to express himself. To give forth with that power and perception which surged within him. These truly are the seeds of progress and he knew it–I mean really knew it. It was not necessary for Bob Gordon to learn music for he was born with such equipment as one not so fortunately endowed could not hope to acquire in three lifetimes. Yet he was the most humble of persons displaying arrogance and aggression only when the security of his home and family demanded it. The union of Bob Gordon and the baritone saxophone must have been decreed in Heaven for never have I viewed such rapport between the natural tendencies of a musical instrument and the mind of the man using it. I cannot imagine Bob Gordon using any other instrument–I mean any other instrument as a vehicle for expressing himself. He was a true baritone player not a converted alto or tenor or clarinet or what have you player: but a man who found that the low pitched, earthy, funky sound inherent in the horn suited him. For Bob too, was earthy and funky and natural and honest.
For me Bob Gordon was more than just an inspiration he was my other half and together we formed a musical whole. Our partnership has not ended, however, for his part is indelibly stamped upon my soul and the task is mine to carry on. For we understood one another and agreed completely. I am fortunate to have loved and been loved in return by one such as Bob Gordon. I also realize that the companionship and artistic rapport which we enjoyed were of such a nature as is not commonly experienced. I am fortunate and a better man for having known and loved Bob Gordon.