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

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.”

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

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