1. Moment - (4'24")
2. Anamorphosis - (12'28")
3. Viale Nino Bixio 20 - (9'16")
4. Pellucity - (9'04")
5. Vade Mecum - (15'51")
6. Twice Upon a Time - (13'12")
7. Acanthus - (13'24")
How motion hereby is sensed in the minutae of tones”
dominates how rhythms and pulse function more for their coloristic value
than as velocities in a metric framework. Sounds are juxtaposed to
intervallic sense, one to another so that the focal point of any passage
is its direction rather than a tonal center” -Ben Young-
“A musicians is more than a person who plays an instrument. The musician
is an engineer of sound and should utilize any and every aspect of sound
in the production of music" -Musician/Composer
“every instrument encompasses an orchestra”
-Musician/Composer Bill Dixon –
these comments summarize concepts that some musicians have been
developing since the 60’s. Unlike many of the revivalist tendencies of
today, the “jazz musician” (to use a common reference term which still
has pejorative implications today) was formerly defined as someone who
played the instrument like no one else.
Bill Dixon’s personal approach and mastery of the trumpet is rarely
discussed in the United States. His brilliance and purity of sound is
compelling. The sudden tutti entrance is a fitting first take. Here are
beautiful phrases constructed of fourths and fifths embellished by warm
scalar colorings, poignant changes in register, and a modality not
unlike the work of Miles Davis and John Coltrane particularly in the way
Mr. Dixon can reduce a musical event to one sound or a few slow notes
contrasted with evocative silences and compressed phrases.
remember Bill Dixon saying that any sound can be used. “Noise” is
equally expressive as a pristine tone. The listener might occasionally
confuse a bowed bass note with a trumpet tone or the reverse.
Beginning Anamorphosis ,(in contrast to Moment) Mr. Dixon
plays speech like noises in the extreme registers of the trumpet.
Witness also the sense of motion generated by two sudden airy bursts at
the beginning of Viale Nino Bixio 29 which is immediately picked
up by the basses and gradually builds to a soft but fast pulse and then
a quick dissolution tapering to two long tones.
Beginnings and endings are arresting and clearly defined. Much of the
intensity and momentum is accomplished without the density and volume
associated with other artists in this music.
Cecil Taylor remarked that he learned from Ellington how instruments can
sing together, if you choose the right timbre. Bill Dixon’s ensemble
demonstrates an affinity for reflective timbre in the way instruments
cross registers and imitate each other’s nuances. Notice this 6:30 into Pellucity where
for about thirty seconds all the instruments alternate between blending
and leaping out of the texture nearly indistinguishable from one
Bill Dixon may at times encompass several registers in one phrase. He
has thought to use every possible register to create a musical
orchestral spread. In this sense and because of the orchestration and
rhythmic activity, four instruments can at times seem like many more.
basses respond equally to the challenge. On Twice Upon a Time, Barry
Guy’s arco seems to follow every timbre, gesture, and register presented
by the trumpet while William Parker plays slow intermittent pizzicato at
points building to a quick pace after which a section is developed as
the drums stop playing. Listen to the last three minutes. Amidst shrieks
and flutters from the trumpet, one bass responds with short quick
phrases while the other bows low and softly, so softly that at first the
listener senses its presence but not its individual sound (as if the
attack is hidden). Barry Guy voices over the trumpet. A quick cadence is
made as the trumpet returns with the basses playing in the trombone
register. The abrupt changes in register impart a form eventful and
immediacy and sensitivity by which each musician can begin, accompany,
and end or continue each others musical statements, the sense of impact,
the subtle reactions of human timing all indicate a high level of
attunement and acuity.
those who are musicians or for anyone who views music as a form of
knowledge like other arts and sciences in these times where music is
increasingly a commodity that provides comfort and reassurance, this
recording is a testament to the sound potential and subtleties of
instruments in the twentieth century.
praise synthesis for its own sake. We praise whimsical gimmicks for
their sense of the unusual. We praise reproductions and dedications to
the past like offerings upon an alter. Rather than curious or mystified,
we are uncomfortable with the unfamiliar, and so we claim that the
artist is impoverished by his or her limitations, but I believe it is
the way an individual adheres to a particular limitation that separates
that person from the interpreter and makes that person an artist.
of means determines style, engenders new form, and gives impulse to
creation." -George Braque "Thoughts and
reflections on Art 1917"
And so we can hear as Bill Dixon has said, how, “for some tradition
can serve as a guide and for others it makes them a prisoner.”