‘Clubhouse’, recorded in 1965 during a brief return to the States from his new home of Copenhagen, is one of a small number of Dexter Gordon albums that were recorded but not released until much later - in this case a whole entire decade later.
A curious recording, it features a great band in Freddie Hubbard on trumpet, Barry Harris on piano, and Bob Cranshaw and Billy Higgins on bass and drums, with some appropriately strong playing, but oddly features some questionable material.
Three Gordon originals are present and highly welcome, and the classic ‘I’m A Fool To Want You’ is given an impassioned performance that makes it easily the best thing here. Why Gordon chose to cover the pretty much unknown ‘Devilette’ and ‘Lady Iris B’ then is a total mystery. Unmemorable and devoid of any real substance, Dexter still manages to solo well and transform the songs into something better. They are though noticeably weaker affairs than usual, given the lack of any real hook to really dig into.
A fairly mixed bag then it features some good music, and some good playing, but overall it just misses that sparkle and punch you’ve come to expect from Dexter Gordon, lacks excitement and really this is quite an easy effort to give a miss. Far from essential.