Bassist, producer and songwriter who was a founding member of Stuff (nee Encyclopedia of Soul), a group of A-list New York session musicians who recorded with numerous artists as well as releasing their own albums. Some of their early haunts included The Bottom Line, Mikell’s, and The Other End Club. They were active with Joe Cocker in the 1970s on his Mad Dogs and Englishmen tour and live recordings such as “The Letter” and “Space Captain”.
From 1st December 1971 through 20th May 1973, Gordon sat in the orchestra pit for a production of William Shakespeare’s Two Gentlemen of Verona at the St. James Theatre in New York, New York. (Galt McDermont Conducts Two Gentlemen of Verona arrived in record stores in 1973.)
Meantime, Gordon appeared on the following recordings in 1972: Bananas Are Not Created Equal by Jay Berliner, Why is Everybody always Pickin’ on Me? by Charlie Brown, A Little Lovin’ by Mel Dancy, “The Final Comedown” by Grant Green, Flute-In by Bobbi Humphrey, “A Man Ain’t No Stronger than His Heart” by Hoagy Lands, Sister Woman by Esther Marrow, Alone Again, Naturally by Esther Phillips, and Stickball by Charles Williams.
In 1973, he played bass on Daryl Hall & John Oates’ Abandoned Luncheonette, John Lennon’s “Mind Games”, Pat Lundy’s Only Love Spoken Here, and Yoko Ono’s “If Only”, “It Happened”, “Potbelly Rocker”, and “Straight Talk”. He went on a tour of Tokyo, Japan, as a member of The Plastic Ono Band in August of 1974, a busy year that found him performing on James Brown’s “Funky President (People it’s Bad)”, Hell, and Reality, The Last Word’s “Keep on Bumpin’ before You Give out of Gas”/”Funky & Some”, and Robert Palmer’s Sneakin’ Sally through the Alley.
In 1975, he appeared on the Van McCoy albums, Disco Baby, The Disco Kid and From Disco to Love. He reunited with Joe Cocker for concerts in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and Tulsa, Oklahoma, and played live with Stuff at The Bottom Line in New York in 1976. America’s bicentennial year included appearances on Groove Holmes’ I’m in the Mood for Love, Rahsaan Roland Kirk’s Kirkatron, Melba Moore’s Melba, Louis Ramirez’s A Different Shade of Black, Stuff’s eponymous debut album, and Cedar Walton’s Beyond Mobius.
In 1977, Stuff performed live at the Shinjuku Kouseinenkin Hall in Tokyo, Japan, and released their sophomore effort, More Stuff, which featured a pair of Gordon’s tunes, “Love of Mine” and “Need Somebody”, co-written with Richard Tee.
Gordon did double duty on Loleatta Holloway’s Queen of the Night, playing bass and handling some of the production chores, as well as contributing his bass lines to Yoshiaki Masuo’s Sailing Wonder, Carly Simon’s Boys in the Trees, and Live Stuff, in 1978.
He opened the 1980s with Yoshiaki Masuo on Masuo Special, Paul Simon on the soundtrack of One-Trick Pony, and Stuff for their Live in New York album, which he also produced. In 1981, he collaborated with Salena Jones on her covers of “Lately”, “My Love”, and “Teach Me Tonight”, and Yoko Ono on Walking on Thin Ice. The remainder of the decade featured Gordon on the following albums: CD of JB by James Brown; Hearts and Bones by Paul Simon; and, the soundtrack of Beer.
In 1994, the core members of Stuff released Made in America: A Remembrance of Richard Tee. Gordon played bass on Bridget St. John’s Take the 5ifth, as well as sharing production duties with Steve Burgh and Dave Perkins. During the balance of the ‘90s, he performed Live at Shinjuku Liquid Room with Papa Gordon and Baby Fusa, and with Stuff at the Bern Jazz Festival, and rejoined Yoko Ono for her 1997 CD, A Story.
The new millennium is chock full of opportunities to hear Gordon’s bass styling in all of their digitized, re-mastered glory, on re-packagings such as Reflections: Carly Simon’s Greatest Hits, The Essential Paul Simon, and Only the Best of Rahsaan Roland Kirk, Vol. 1.
As of 2010, Stuff had a steady date on Wednesday nights at the Creole Restaurant in Manhattan, New York, and made their first appearance at JazzAscona in Ascona, Switzerland. He also tied the knot with the aforementioned Bridget St. John in a pastoral setting near a lake in the Adirondacks. Needless to say, the wedding band was pretty darned good.
Van McCoy recordings
The Shuffle (Van McCoy)
That’s the Joint (Van McCoy)
Here’s his composition “Gordon’s Theme” performed by Stuff..