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The Bill Dixon Orchestra: Intents And Purposes (2011)

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The Bill Dixon Orchestra: Intents And Purposes How we rate: our writers tend to review music they like within their preferred genres.

Intents And Purposes has long been revered as Bill Dixon's singular masterpiece. Out of print for years, the late trumpet innovator's magnum opus has been lovingly remastered and reissued on CD, by International Phonograph Inc., in a deluxe mini-LP styled package that replicates the original 1967 issue, providing an important opportunity to reevaluate this seminal work.

Since his decisive involvement in 1964's October Revolution in Jazz and lengthy tenure at Bennington College in Vermont (1968-1995), Dixon has been renowned for his skills as an organizer and an educator rather than his pioneering advancements as an instrumentalist and composer. As a former student of painting as well as music, Dixon's conceptual organization of sound relies heavily on color, shade and texture, with a keen sensitivity to dynamics—aspects that quickly placed him at the creative forefront of the 1960s New Thing. Originally recorded for RCA when he was 42, Intents And Purposes was Dixon's third album as a leader, following two efforts for Savoy in 1962 and 1964 that were co-led by tenor saxophonist Archie Shepp
Archie Shepp
Archie Shepp
b.1937
saxophone
.

Though the epic opener "Metamorphosis 1962-1966" rallies around massed sonorities and dramatic dissonances, the lush unison lines and rich counterpoint that underpin the brooding five part suite exude a regal sensibility far removed from the impulsive free jazz of the time. Clocking in at just over thirteen minutes, the rousing episodes that punctuate the work's orchestral narrative feature a range of expressive detours, including the leader's raspy brass intonations, Byard Lancaster
Byard Lancaster
Byard Lancaster
1942 - 2012
saxophone
and Robin Kenyatta
Robin Kenyatta
1942 - 2004
saxophone
's soulfully acerbic alto excursions, and a stirring drum and percussion duet.

"Voices" pushes the aesthetic envelope even further, forming a startling alliance between austere classicism and the primal immediacy of ritualized rhythm. Performed by a string-heavy quintet, the lengthy piece features Dixon's melancholy horn refrains and Lancaster's otherworldly bass clarinet drifting over haunting string glissandi that eventually trade the sinuous sustain of legato melodies for the polyrhythmic power of tribal drumming. Two sublime variations of "Nightfall Pieces" serve as ethereal interludes between the date's long-form works—neo-classical vignettes that frame Dixon's breathy meditations against George Marge's diaphanous flute ruminations.

The reissue of Intents And Purposes allows the record to finally take its rightful place alongside such masterpieces as Ornette Coleman
Ornette Coleman
Ornette Coleman
b.1930
sax, alto
's Free Jazz (Columbia, 1960), John Coltrane
John Coltrane
John Coltrane
1926 - 1967
saxophone
's Ascension (Impulse!, 1965) and Miles Davis
Miles Davis
Miles Davis
1926 - 1991
trumpet
' Bitches Brew (Columbia, 1970). An expansive collection of forward-thinking compositions, this historically important session reveals the then burgeoning New Thing's potential for more than just exhortative expressionism, helping establish the foundation of what visionary multi-instrumentalist Rahsaan Roland Kirk
Rahsaan Roland Kirk
Rahsaan Roland Kirk
1936 - 1977
reeds
referred to as "Black Classical Music."


Track Listing: Metamorphosis 1962-1966; Nightfall Pieces I; Voices; Nightfall Pieces II.

Personnel: Bill Dixon: trumpet, flugelhorn; Jimmy Cheatham: bass trombone (1); Byard Lancaster: alto saxophone (1), bass clarinet (1, 3); Robin Kenyatta: alto saxophone (1); George Marge: English Horn (1), flute (2, 4); Catherine Norris: cello (1, 3); Jimmy Garrison: bass (1, 3); Reggie Workman: bass (1); Robert Frank Pozar: drums (1, 3); Marc Levin: percussion (1).

Record Label: International Phonograph Inc.


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