Monday, March 28, 2011

Bill Dixon – Intents and Purposes (RCA 1969, International Phonographic, 2011)

Trumpeter, composer and educator Bill Dixon’s music has always been something of an enigma to me, but seeing how revered he was by his fellow musicians I tried my best to enjoy it. This album, amazingly released originally by a major label and out of print for many years has been given a beautiful re-issue and re-mastering, which brings the album considered to be Dixon’s masterpiece to life. I found this music surprisingly accessible, but no less original in its conception. Drawing equally from composition, improvisation and freedom the music adheres no code or credo save Dixon’s own. Two lengthy pieces bookend the album, “Metamorphosis 1962 – 1966” and “Voices” with a stellar group featuring Jimmy Garrison on bass, Byard Lancaster on bass clarinet, Catherine Norris on cello and Robert Frank Pozar on drums, among others. Plumbing the lower depths of music, the low sound of the bass and bass clarinet give a unique and unusual sound for Dixon to improvise over. His role is fascinating as he alternately leads with strong trumpet, and supports with slurs and accents to the benefit of the other musicians. The shorter pieces, “Nightfall Pieces 1 and 2” are short vignettes for trumpet and the flute of George Marge that develop like short stories of music against the novel like longer pieces. It is easy in retrospect to understand why this album has garnered such enthusiasm among fans and musicians. The music sounds like nothing else of the period (or today for that matter) and the palette of instruments and musicians is continually fascinating. Kudos to Jonathan Horwich for the herculean effort it took to bring this masterpiece back into print. Intents And Purposes -

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