@roxy54: Yes, that is exactly what Whitlock is saying. Eric Clapton, upon hearing Music From Big Pink, came to the same conclusion. That’s why he disbanded Cream and traveled to the Big Pink house in West Saugerties, New York, intending to ask to join The Band.
Clapton has numerous times talked about the effect hearing MFBP had on him---including in the speech he gave while inducting The Band into The Rock ’n’ Roll Hall Of Fame. Here’s a quote from Eric in the Martin Scorsese documentary the director and Band fan made on them:
"I listened to this album, and I thought ’This is it; this is where music has supposed to have gone for a long time and it hasn’t really got there. And now it finally.....someone’s finally gone and done it."
"There was no con, there was no bullsh*t. It was absolutely legitimate songwriting, without any kind of frills, and just performance with the best that they had to give."
Regarding Jim Gordon: there are different schools of musicianship, Gordon being of a specific one. It appears you don’t "get" that school (no offense intended ;-), or prefer a different one, which is your right. But let me tell you, amongst songwriters and singers (and Pro drummers), Gordon is considered as good as they get. That’s why George Harrison hired him to record his post-Beatles debut album All Things Must Pass. George had his choice of every drummer on Earth, and he chose Jim. You must be thinking "Why would George choose Jim Gordon?" Does George "know" something you don’t? Or is it simply a matter of taste?
When I recorded with Emitt Rhodes (if you aren’t familiar with him, get with it!), he told me Jim was the best drummer he ever worked with. If you don’t understand why Emitt and George would feel that way, I don’t think I can explain it to you. I will say this: when I don’t understand something (like when I myself first heard Music From Big Pink), I assume it is a personal failing, and work to understand what it is that others seem to know that I don’t.
It didn’t happen until a year after MFBP came out, but while watching and listening to Dewey Martin (Buffalo Springfield drummer) performing live I had the great epiphany: the school of musicianship that makes musical, ensemble playing the metric by which a musician is judged. As Miles Davis said: "The notes you DON’T play are as important as those you do." Musical wisdom!