Point Of Departure: Bill Dixon x 2

December 9, 2009

The December issue of Point of Departure features a review of Bill Dixon’s new three-disc set, Tapestries for Small Orchestra (Firehouse 12 Records), by Troy Collins, as well as a feature on the eminent trumpeter/composer by Art Lange.

“The minimalist ideal of the ‘single note as a symphony’ finds credence in these epic meditations when long tones are sustained across multiple bar lines,” Collins writes. “Elsewhere, Dixon punctuates dark, introspective atmospheres with rancorous activity, and coils ghostly harmonies into dense thickets of dissonance. Brought to life by these phenomenal players, Dixon’s orchestral approach to improvisation is further detailed in the DVD documentary, which includes interviews with Dixon and the ensemble, as well as footage of three complete performances and an alternate take of the brooding opener, ‘Motorcycle ’66: Reflections & Ruminations’…for Dixon aficionados and those interested in the endless possibilities of sound, there is a surfeit of remarkable music contained in this collection.”

Lange adds, “Tapestries is a powerful achievement. The title is especially appropriate, alluding to the separate instrumental fibers woven together, the almost tactile sense of texture, and an often complicated imagery (in visual terms, either representational or geometric). In these eight pieces there are, again, compositional strategies that trace back as far as the chamber music-like developmental resources in Intents And Purposes and resonate throughout Dixon’s recorded works—the lyrical melodic contours, primarily dark and introspective; fluctuating, intersecting ensemble details and rhythmic confluence; the poised flow balancing thematic focus and spontaneous, responsive incidents of energy—now expanded and intensified.”

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NY Times: Bill Dixon’s Tapestries For Small Orchestra (Firehouse 12)

December 7, 2009

The new Critics’ Choice column in today’s New York Times features a review of Bill Dixon’s Tapestries for Small Orchestra (Firehouse 12 Records) by Ben Ratliff.

“The low notes in Bill Dixon’s Tapestries for Small Orchestra loom like great whales,” he writes, “powering through the best of its long, patient, texture-obsessed performances. They’re played by double-bass and contrabass clarinet; above them floats a cloud of brass, directed and defined by Mr. Dixon’s own trumpet-playing. [He] has some deep and original thoughts about abstraction in music, and doesn’t leave beauty behind…a few of these pieces—especially ‘Motorcycle ’66: Reflections & Ruminations,’ ‘Adagio: Slow Mauve Scribblings’ and ‘Allusions I’—have a majesty for which you have to write in your own meaning.”


Howard Mandel: Best Jazz CDs Of 2009

December 1, 2009


Author, jazz critic and President of the Jazz Journalists Association Howard Mandel posted a list of his favorite CDs from 2009 on his blog, Jazz Beyond Jazz, this past Friday.

Darcy James Argue’s Infernal Machines (New Amsterdam) and The Thirteenth Assembly’s (un)sentimental (Important Records) both earned spots of the 11-title list.

Of the former, Mandel writes, “Recasting the ‘jazz’ orchestra with an ear hip to a spectrum of contemporary composition but most of all sound itself, Argue diplays a nervy ethos by conducting 18 not-very-well-known but gutsy instrumentalists through arresting themes, solid rhythms and energized solos. This is Brooklyn offline, ironic but earnest, and has drawn a following among listeners in their late 20s-early 30s.”

And, he called the debut of Taylor Ho Bynum, Tomas Fujiwara, Mary Halvorson and Jessica Pavone’s collective quartet, The Thirteenth Assembly, “Chamber music for moderns—a cornetist, drummer, guitarist and violaist walk the lines between structure and improv, sensitivity and humor, questions and suggestions, inherent references to the past and unpretentious confidence they’re in the right place for music now.”

The list was compiled from nearly 1000 CDs Mandel received for review since last November, so naturally there were lots of honorable mentions. John Hébert’s highly regarded debut, Byzantine Monkey (Firehouse 12), was part of the “Also Much Enjoyed” list.

UPDATE: Mandel’s Top 11 of 2009 is now posted at the Jazz Journalists Association’s Web site.


Remembering 2009

November 23, 2009

Image from TheDailyGreen.com
The latest can to be kicked around the jazz blogosphere (and beyond) is what records make the cut as the best of the decade.

As much as we enjoy the opportunity to reminisce about our first seven-plus years in business, and the 135 recordings we promoted for our clients in that span, we’re not quite ready to dip a toe in that nearly bottomless pool just yet.

But, we’re more than happy to shine a light on the recordings we promoted for our clients in 2009 (in order of their release).

Hopefully at least a few of these will end up on your year’s best list or at least your list for Santa.

David S. Ware
Shakti (AUM Fidelity)

Gerald Cleaver/William Parker/Craig Taborn
Farmers By Nature (AUM Fidelity)

The Ayn Inserto Jazz Orchestra
Muse (Creative Nation Music)

Garrison Fewell
Variable Density Sound Orchestra (Creative Nation Music)

Darcy James Argue’s Secret Society
Infernal Machines (New Amsterdam Records)

Michael Musillami Trio + 3
From Seeds (Playscape Recordings)

The Fully Celebrated
Drunk On The Blood Of The Holy Ones (AUM Fidelity)

John Hébert
Byzantine Monkey (Firehouse 12 Records)

Carl Maguire’s Floriculture
Sided Silver Solid (Firehouse 12 Records)

Joe Morris/Petr Cancura/Luther Gray
Wildlife (AUM Fidelity)

KLANG
Tea Music (Allos Documents)

Taylor Ho Bynum & SpiderMonkey Strings
Madeleine Dreams (Firehouse 12 Records)

Fay Victor Ensemble
The FreeSong Suite (Greene Avenue Music)

Fonda/Stevens Group
Memphis (Playscape Recordings)

Harris Eisenstadt
Canada Day (Clean Feed)

Darius Jones Trio
Man’ish Boy (AUM Fidelity)

Joe Morris Quartet
Today On Earth (AUM Fidelity)

Jessica Pavone
Songs Of Synastry And Solitude (Tzadik)

Bill Dixon
Tapestries For Small Orchestra (Firehouse 12 Records)


FONT Music To Present Four-Night Event At Abrons Arts Center In January

November 19, 2009

The Festival of New Trumpet Music (FONT Music) will present Forward Flight, the third and final event of its 7th annual performance season, from Wednesday, January 13th through Saturday, January 16th at New York’s Abrons Arts Center.

This four-night celebration of the eclecticism of the trumpet in contemporary music, curated by Dave Douglas and Taylor Ho Bynum, will feature events on two stages, including performances by a diverse range of ensembles, three free FONT Music Workshop Series events and an opening night tribute to unheralded veteran trumpet player, Wilmer Wise.

The program will include world premieres of music from the New York-based composers collective Anti-Social Music (ASM) and composer David Sanford, whose piece, “Seven Kings”, was commissioned by FONT Music with support from Chamber Music America to be performed by the Meridian Arts Ensemble with guest soloist Dave Ballou. And, The New York Trumpet Ensemble, directed by Mark Gould, will present the New York premiere of Charles Wuorinen‘s Brass Quintet.

Headlining events will include indie folk band The Low Anthem with a special appearance by Dave Douglas, a celebration of the Chicago Underground Duo‘s new CD, Boca Negra (Thrill Jockey), a rare performance of Ornette Coleman’s “The Sacred Mind of Johnny Dolphin” by Wilmer Wise and the American debut of the Open Circuit International Trumpet Ensemble, featuring an all-star cast of trumpet players from America, Austria, Japan and France, presented with support from CMA/FACE French-American Jazz Exchange.

Forward Flight is a collection of performances designed to highlight the forward-looking trajectory of current brass music,” Douglas explains. “The name is taken from a late fifties album by Booker Little, and like that trumpeter it shows the wide ranging possibilities for this instrument. In the context of alternative folk and rock, in contemporary classical composition, in international hybrids of improvised music and electronics, brass instruments continue to breathe air into the expansion of contemporary trends.”

He adds, “FONT Music is for the first time becoming a membership organization, and this festival feels like a part of that step. In our own community, longtime board member Wilmer Wise will be feted with a ceremony and special performance on January 13th. When combined with a series of workshops free to the public, this seems like a big step in a very special year for FONT Music as an organization and as a music festival.”

Forward Flight schedule:

Wednesday, January 13th at 7:30 p.m.
FONT Music Celebrates the Music and Legacy of Wilmer Wise
Featuring Dave Douglas, Wilmer Wise and several special guests

Thursday, January 14th at 5:00 p.m.
Free workshop: Oral History Project with Wilmer Wise
Anti-Social Music
The New York Trumpet Ensemble directed by Mark Gould
Wilmer Wise

Friday, January 15th at 5:00 p.m.
Free workshop: Ableton Live User Group co-hosted by Dubspot
Opsvik & Jennings plus the Ignite A Noise Trumpet Trio
Chicago Underground Duo
The Low Anthem with special appearance by Dave Douglas

Saturday, January 16th at 5:00 p.m.
Free workshop: Group improvisation with the York College Blue Notes
Mr. Tamerman‘s Maggot and Sarah Ferholt‘s Vevertise
Meridian Arts Ensemble with Dave Ballou
Open Circuit International Trumpet Ensemble

Thursday, Friday and Saturday night events will begin at 5:00 p.m. with a free workshop followed by an early performance in the Blackbox Theatre and headline performances at 7:30 and 9:00 p.m. on the Main Stage.

Tickets for the opening night benefit concert are $35, which also includes a membership in FONT Music and admission to the pre-concert reception. Tickets for the other three nights are $15 ($12 for students with ID and FONT Music members) per night. All tickets can be purchased at https://www.ovationtix.com/trs/pr/702215.

A festival pass is also available for $40 ($30 students with ID and FONT members). Passes can be purchased at https://www.ovationtix.com/trs/store/209

The Abrons Arts Center is located at 466 Grand Street (at the corner of Pitt Street) on Manhattan’s Lower East Side. Venue information is available at (212) 598-0400 and http://www.abronsartscenter.org

About FONT Music:

FONT Music is a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization that sustains trumpeters and new trumpet music by commissioning composers, producing concerts, presenting workshops and panels, and supporting music programs in New York City’s public schools. Created by trumpeters for trumpeters, the organization and its diverse programs are currently overseen by Artistic Director Dave Douglas and a volunteer board featuring some of contemporary trumpet music’s most celebrated practitioners.

Founded in 2003 by Douglas and Roy Campbell, FONT Music has presented over 200 concerts by emerging artists and creative pioneers alike at venues all over New York. It has also commissioned new works from more than a dozen young trumpet players, paid tribute to such legendary performers as Louis Armstrong, Don Cherry and Woody Shaw, and presented world premiere performances of music by a long list of notable composers that includes Anthony Braxton, Laurence “Butch” Morris and Wadada Leo Smith.

Its acclaimed efforts have been called “a grand highlight of the musical season” (The New Yorker), “one of the most exciting and diverse of NYC’s annual music festivals” (Time Out New York), “a key showcase for some of the most exciting horn players on the planet” (Chicago Reader) and “an expectedly stellar and eclectic schedule of genre-blurring commissions and exploratory collaborations” (JazzTimes). “By definition,” adds the New York Times‘ Nate Chinen, “the Festival of New Trumpet Music prizes a spirit of innovation; that ‘new’ in the title is no accident.”

Learn more about FONT Music at http://fontmusic.org


NewMusicBox: Bill Dixon’s Tapestries For Small Orchestra

November 18, 2009


Trevor Hunter provides an in-depth analysis of Bill Dixon’s Tapestries for Small Orchestra (Firehouse 12 Records) in a newly posted review for the American Music Center’s Web magazine, NewMusicBox.

“In short,” he writes, “this is one of the best CDs of the year. Firehouse 12 has done an amazing job with every facet of this release…every instrument is given the space to breathe and create. The liner notes, written by Taylor Ho Bynum and Stephen Haynes, are an illuminatingly good read, but most interesting of all supporting materials is the documentary included on the DVD.”


Bill Dixon’s Tapestries For Small Orchestra Released Today

November 17, 2009

Firehouse 12 Records is proud to announce the release of eminent trumpeter/composer Bill Dixon‘s Tapestries for Small Orchestra (FH12-04-03-008), a three-disc set that includes two audio CDs of new original music and a DVD featuring the documentary film, Bill Dixon: Going To The Center.

Made possible in part by a grant from the LEF Foundation‘s Contemporary Work Fund, and the support of the Festival of New Trumpet Music (FONT Music), this project documents the three-day recording process at Firehouse 12’s state of the art recording studio from start to finish, offering unprecedented access into Dixon’s creative process.

The session, which produced eight new tracks, features Dixon (trumpet and electronics), Taylor Ho Bynum (cornet, flugelhorn, bass and piccolo trumpets), Graham Haynes (cornet, flugelhorn and electronics), Stephen Haynes (trumpet, cornet and flugelhorn), Rob Mazurek (cornet and electronics), Glynis Lomon (violincello), Michel Côté (contrabass clarinet and bass clarinet), Ken Filiano (double bass and electronics) and Warren Smith (vibraphone, marimba, drums, tympani and gongs).