Maxine stated in an interview, “Writing a book on Dexter Gordon requires skills and study in historical method and African American history. After all, the story is not just about picking up the saxophone and going on the road with Lionel Hampton. The story is much larger, and it is important to understand the cultural context from which Dexter developed to understand who he was and what he strove for in his life.” Born in New York City, Maxine has a long history in Jazz which began as a teenager when she and her friends would go to Birdland and the Village Vanguard to hear Miles Davis, Sonny Rollins, John Coltrane, Art Blakey with the classic Jazz Messengers group of Lee Morgan, Wayne Shorter, Jymie Merritt, and Bobby Timmons. A CAREER IN JAZZ She began her career in Jazz as a road manager for Gil Evans when he had a large group and then worked in Europe as a tour manager for groups and Festivals. She was encouraged to continue her work with Jazz musicians by her friend Harold Vick who suggested she help manage a group he was in that had a contract with Columbia Records. It became apparent that many Jazz musicians knew quite a lot about the business but could use someone to make calls and talk to club owners and promoters on their behalf. She learned the business of recording by helping her close friend Shirley Scott ("Queen of the Organ") and co-producing her album One for Me with Harold Vick and Billy Higgins for Strata-East Records. This was the first album where Shirley was able to pick the compositions, write the music, and play exactly what she wanted to play. The relationship with Shirley, as friends and partners, continued until Shirley’s death in 2002. Maxine began to organize and write grant proposals for Jazz musicians when there were composition grants at the NEA. Most of the people she wrote grants with were awarded funding including Ahmad Jamal and Harry Sweets Edison. She learned to understand recording contracts and worked with artists and their lawyers to make the best deals possible. Producer Michael Cuscuna once said: “Maxine made the best deal I ever saw when she negotiated with Columbia for Dexter. I don’t know how she did that.” On a tour of Europe for a promoter there, Maxine was sent to assist Dexter Gordon and his group to travel to Scandinavia by circumventing Italy where there was a train strike. On the very long trip with Dexter and his group, Dexter remarked: Is that the only book you ever read? She was required to spend hours studying the European Rail Travel schedules to get the band to their destinations on time. This is only one of the “trials by fire” in a long history of learning the Jazz business by being with the musicians who became her teachers and supporters. The bass player Sam Jones once said: “Maxine really loves this music and she seems to like being in the company of jazz musicians. We need to help her because we need as much help as we can get.” As Maxine has often said: “I love this music and I love being around Jazz musicians and I found a way to live a life where I could be in a world that suits me.”Read more Read less
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