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

January 4, 2010

Dusted‘s Bill Meyer kicks off the new year in style with a review of Bill Dixon’s Tapestries for Small Orchestra (Firehouse 12 Records).

“He gives each element room to move,” Meyer writes, “and each personal/instrumental combination enough space for their interactions to be clearly perceived. Despite the size of the band on Tapestries (which includes Michel Côté on bass and contrabass clarinetist, cellist Glynis Lomon, bassist Ken Filiano, percussionist Warren Smith, and Rob Mazurek, Stephen Haynes, Graham Haynes, and Taylor Ho Bynum on cornets and trumpets), each contribution stands out so clearly that this music sounds even more transparent than that of Vade Mecum and Papyrus, the multi-volume recordings for two-to-four musicians that Dixon made during the 1990s. Each part, no matter how small, is played with conviction and sensitivity so to fit into the bigger picture.”

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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.”


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

December 4, 2009


Bill Tilland reviews trumpeter/composer Bill Dixon’s Tapestries For Small Orchestra (Firehouse 12 Records) in a new post on the BBC’s Web site.

“Both his compositions and his own playing tend to be very painterly,” he writes, “with extensive use of space and silence, tonal colours, instrumental juxtapositions and aural gestures: smears, burrs, squeaks, rasps and vocalisations. Each piece has a distinct texture, shape and sense of movement. The music defies classification and is sometimes ‘difficult’, but Dixon’s academic sensibilities are clearly energised by a soulful, passionate aesthetic.”

He adds, “Tapestries is not for the timid or intellectually complacent listener, but anyone prepared to meet Dixon’s music halfway will reap some significant rewards.”


Destination: Out Offers Exclusive Bill Dixon Track

December 3, 2009

Late in the day yesterday, Destination: Out posted its review of Tapestries for Small Orchestra, Bill Dixon’s new three-disc set on Firehouse 12 Records, and with it an exclusive download of an alternate take of the track “Motorcycle ’66”.

The review calls the set “thoroughly stunning” and goes on to add, “Dixon presents gorgeous, slow-moving tableaus, highlighting the range of sounds and textures that the trumpets and cornets can produce. Charged yet sedate, unhurried in the extreme yet never ponderous, it’s mature music that is all too aware of the passing of time; the passing of time is in part what this music is about.”


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).


Firehouse 12 Records To Release Bill Dixon’s New Three-Disc Set November 17th

September 1, 2009
Photo by Nick Ruechel

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


Bill Dixon’s Latest CD Among The Wire’s Top 50 of 2008

December 8, 2008

Legendary trumpeter/composer/educator Bill Dixon’s most recent release, 17 Musicians in Search of a Sound: Darfur (Arts for Art/AUM Fidelity), is #19 on The Wire’s Top 50 of 2008 as listed in the January 2009 issue.  

This live concert recording, the first collection of all original orchestral music released under Dixon’s name since 1967’s momentous Intents and Purposes (RCA Victor), documents the world premiere performance of the specially commissioned, hour-long titular work at Vision Festival XII in 2007.   

Dixon’s AUM Fidelity label mate, William Parker, earned a spot on the magazine’s Best of 2008 list in the Jazz & Improv category for his own live orchestral recording, Double Sunrise Over Neptune, also specially commissioned by, and performed at, Vision Festival XII.

Guitarist/composer Mary Halvorson’s highly acclaimed debut as a leader, Dragon’s Head (Firehouse 12 Records), was also voted one of the year’s best in that category. 

Congratulations to all the artists involved and those who helped make these recordings possible.