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.”
December 29, 2009
In what essentially amounts to a second Christmas morning for jazz publicists and their clients, the anxiously awaited results of the prestigious Village Voice Jazz Critics Poll, as overseen by the esteemed Francis Davis, have been published.
99 writers voted this year, each submitting a Top 10 list (the ballots are then compiled using a point system to create an overall Top 50), as well as single picks in the Jazz Reissue of the Year, Best Debut, Best Vocal Album, Best Debut and Best Latin categories.
It gives us great pleasure to report that four of our clients’ releases were recognized in the Jazz Album of the Year category:
#04: Darcy James Argue, Infernal Machines (New Amsterdam)
#12: Bill Dixon, Tapestries For Small Orchestra (Firehouse 12 Records)
#17: Darius Jones Trio, Man’ish Boy (AUM Fidelity)
#35: David S. Ware, Shakti (AUM Fidelity)
We’re also extremely pleased to report that Infernal Machines took the Best Debut category in a landslide victory, with Man’ish Boy finishing a well-deserved second.
And, in what might be considered the biggest coup of all, The Fay Victor Ensemble’s The FreeSong Suite (Greene Avenue Music) finished fourth in the Best Vocal Album category, only six votes behind the winner: this year’s critical darling, Gretchen Parlato. It’s very much worth pointing out that Fay’s record was the only finalist featuring all-original music. We couldn’t be prouder.
Congratulations to all the artists recognized and thanks again to all the critics who voted (check out the individual ballots here) and especially to Mr. Davis who makes the whole thing possible (and gracefully sums up the whole process here).
December 29, 2009
AllAboutJazz-New York published its annual Best of 2009 feature in the new January issue and we’re very proud to say our clients are well-represented.
Special congratulations to those recognized as the year’s best in the following categories:
Albums of the Year
Darcy James Argue, Infernal Machines (New Amsterdam Records)
Bill Dixon, Tapestries for Small Orchestra (Firehouse 12 Records)
David S. Ware, Shakti (AUM Fidelity)
John Hébert, Byzantine Monkey (Firehouse 12 Records)
Darius Jones Trio, Man’ish Boy (A Raw & Beautiful Thing) (AUM Fidelity)
The Fay Victor Ensemble, The FreeSong Suite (Greene Avenue Music)
Large Ensemble Releases
Darcy James Argue, Infernal Machines (New Amsterdam Records)
Albums of the Year – Honorable Mention
Cleaver/Parker/Taborn, Farmers By Nature (AUM Fidelity)
Harris Eisenstadt, Canada Day (Clean Feed)
Garrison Fewell, Variable Density Sound Orchestra (Creative Nation Music)
KLANG, Tea Music (Allos Documents)
Michael Musillami Trio + 3, From Seeds (Playscape Recordings)
December 28, 2009
In his new review, posted on Christmas Day, AllAboutJazz.com’s John Sharpe calls Bill Dixon’s Tapestries for Small Orchestra (Firehouse 12 Records) “undoubtedly one of the events of the year.”
“It follows hot on the heels of two other important orchestral works in 17 Musicians in Search of a Sound: Darfur (AUM Fidelity, 2008) and Exploding Star Orchestra (Thrill Jockey, 2007),” he continues, “but surpasses both through the insight 109 minutes of music and a half hour documentary film affords into Dixon’s universe. Each track is a treasure trove of cohesive detail executed to wonderful effect. While full explication is beyond the scope of this review, this is essential listening for anyone interested in the state of contemporary jazz orchestration.”
December 22, 2009
It is our pleasure to report that Darcy James Argue’s Infernal Machines (New Amsterdam), Bill Dixon’s Tapestries for Small Orchestra (Firehouse 12 Records), Darius Jones’ Man’ish Boy (AUM Fidelity) and David S. Ware’s Shakti (AUM Fidelity) account for four of the ten recordings included in Destination:Out’s Fave Jazz Jamz of 2009.
Three other AUM Fidelity releases, Cleaver/Parker/Taborn’s Farmers By Nature, Morris/Cancura/Gray’s Wildlife and the Joe Morris Quartet’s Today On Earth, were also mentioned in this post, which features an exclusive download from Jones’ Man’ish Boy.
December 17, 2009
Nilan Perera’s reviews of Firehouse 12 Records‘ two latest releases, Taylor Ho Bynum & SpiderMonkey Strings’ Madeleine Dreams and Bill Dixon’s Tapestries for Small Orchestra, are now posted at Exclaim.ca
“The music is performed by a wonderful ensemble,” Perera explains in his review of Madeleine Dreams, “with the music providing a strong and compelling counterpoint to the succinct yet supremely poetic text. The mix of composition and improvisation provides a focused yet flexible collaborator to the images evoked by the sometimes sung, sometimes spoken text, and is never contrived or obvious. The remaining three pieces by Ellington, Coleman and Sun Ra are also infused with a sly originality, completing a very satisfying work.”
“[Tapestries for Small Orchestra] marks Bill Dixon‘s 84th year in a life creating and developing one of the most singularly identifiable and personal visions in music,” Perera writes. “While this double CD set of music bristles with the glacial counterpoints, sprays of energy and the throbbing subtexts of tension that define his music, it has in some ways a rawness and presence that sound more restrained than in previous work. This aspect has been ably spelled out in the accompanying documentary on his process, in which his focus on the playing aspect of limited written material (sometimes fragments and sketches) is detailed. This CD/DVD set is not only a great set of music, but an object lesson in process.”
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.”
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.”
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.”
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.”