Photo by Nick Ruechel
On November 17th, Firehouse 12 Records will release 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 plus a DVD featuring video footage of the session and a documentary film. 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).
In his liner notes for this recording, Stephen Haynes writes, “Dixon’s work as an instrumentalist and composer is informed and infused by an extended view of narrative—both the sense of the long line (extensions of playing ‘across the bar lines’) and in the broader arena of orchestration and arrangement. Listen closely to the work in this new recording and you will hear melodies that move by so slowly that they begin to transmute from the horizontal into the vertical. We are not simply talking about a minimalist approach, but one that profoundly embraces and inhabits the notion that less is indeed more: a single note as a symphony.”
He adds, “Few practitioners (even amongst the ‘influenced generation’) have understood and/or evidenced this core aspect of Dixon’s music: his singular sense of time (as an individual voice and in the ensemble context) and his way of organizing the music (composition). This is not a soloist’s music: there is no emphasis on the individual as being separate or distinct from the sonic whole. Indeed a Tapestry, the listener will discover a weaving of the individual as orchestra into a suite for multiple improvising orchestras. It is a layered creative world made up of nine carefully chosen musicians, offering a new window into the wonderful vision of one uniquely American artist: Bill Dixon.”
The release of Tapestries for Small Orchestra comes at a time of renewed interest in Dixon and his music, thanks to a celebration of his lifetime of achievement by the Vision Festival in 2007 and notable recordings on the AUM Fidelity and Thrill Jockey labels in 2008. Although he will be 84 years old when this new set is released, he is still actively composing and performing, as well as continuing to inspire musicians with his distinctive style and innovative approach to his instrument.
“Dixon’s influence on the subsequent generations of brass improvisers is profound,” writes Bynum in his liner notes for the project. “The trumpet and cornet players on this album (Graham Haynes, Stephen Haynes, Rob Mazurek and myself) are but a few examples of his musical progeny, and even among the four of us, his influence manifests itself in strikingly diverse ways. None of us sound alike, nor do we sound like Dixon, but all of us clearly draw upon Dixon’s legacy in how we approach our horns.”
In addition to his impact as a musician and composer, Dixon has been a driving force in the advancement of contemporary American Black Music for more than 45 years. His pioneering work as an organizer in the early 60’s, with such groups as the Jazz Composers’ Guild, helped lay the foundation for New York’s current creative improvised music scene, and his nearly 30-year career in academia included the founding of Bennington College’s historic Black Music Division in 1973. He is also an accomplished visual artist, whose work has been exhibited around the world and graced many of his recordings, including this one. Learn more at http://www.bill-dixon.com