The other day, I stopped to talk to a colleague at JMU (thank you, Donna Wampler!) who was placing donated cds on a table. I saw this Dexter Gordon album, The Tower of Power, and I snatched it up. I actually bought the record at Tower Records in Boston back in the 80s, when I was a teenager. I had very few records back then and I listened to this one over and over. I still have my vinyl copy, but I haven't listened to it in years. Having it on cd was too good to pass up. The next morning, I popped it in the stereo while I drank my morning tea.
I have been teaching jazz improvisation for thirty years. In that time, I have always taught that you can wiggle your way out of any note on any chord, as long as you do it with style and intention. There is one exception: you can't play the major third on a minor chord. I call it "the dreaded flat eleventh!"
The first track is a tenor battle between Dexter and James Moody on a minor tune with a cycle bridge. I listened to this album probably a hundred times when I was a kid. Remember, we didn't have the internet back then, so I had a handful of albums and listened to them over and over again.
Imagine my astonishment when I hear Moody absolutely slay a major third on a minor chord. Check it out below at around 3:30.