One of the most important yet overlooked figures in jazz is given his due with this amazing four-disc set on Proper. Going for the label's usual bargain-basement rate (roughly 20 dollars a pop), Settin' the Pace rounds up 55 of the tenor innovator's bop sides from the latter half of the '40s. Replete with a handsome and bulky booklet full of excellent photos, notes, and sessionographies, this import makes a solid case for Gordon being the key link between early tenor giants like Coleman Hawkins and hard bop upstart Sonny Rollins. Besides that, there's a consistently solid array of classic bop cuts. Whether backing up Billy Eckstine ("Blowin' the Blues Away") and Dizzy Gillespie ("Groovin' High") or with his own combos ("Dexter's Deck"), Gordon is in top form throughout. Settin' the Pace, indeed.