All About Jazz

Home » Articles » CD/LP/Track Review

Dear All About Jazz Readers,

If you're familiar with All About Jazz, you know that we've dedicated over two decades to supporting jazz as an art form, and more importantly, the creative musicians who make it. Our enduring commitment has made All About Jazz one of the most culturally important websites of its kind in the world reaching hundreds of thousands of readers every month. However, to expand our offerings and develop new means to foster jazz discovery we need your help.

You can become a sustaining member for a modest $20 and in return, we'll immediately hide those pesky Google ads PLUS deliver exclusive content and provide access to future articles for a full year! This combination will not only improve your AAJ experience, it will allow us to continue to rigorously build on the great work we first started in 1995. Read on to view our project ideas...

7

Akua Dixon: Akua's Dance

Chris M. Slawecki By

Sign in to view read count
My ears are not accustomed to hearing cello as the lead instrument in an ensemble, and so Akua's Dance by cellist and baritone violinist Akua Dixon took some getting used to.

Dixon took quite a circuitous route to her third release: After graduating from New York's Fame High School of the Performing Arts, then studying at the Manhattan School of Music, one of her first jobs was in the pit band at the world-famous Apollo Theater in Harlem, where she supported acts from Reverend James Cleveland to Barry White to James Brown. From there, she stepped out her own: She founded her own string quartet, served as Director of New Music for The String Reunion (a 30-piece orchestra founded by violinist Noel Pointer) and was a founding member of the Max Roach Double Quartet.

Akua's Dance presents jazz concepts in classical sound. "The music moves forward from where I was to where I'm going," Dixon explains. "On this one, I'm out front with the rhythm section." Actually, she's "out in front" with two rhythm sections: She performs on baritone violin with her working quartet of bassist Kenny Davis, drummer Victor Lewis and guitarist Freddie Bryant, whose playing shines throughout. Dixon switches to cello for tunes with Lewis, guitarist Russell Malone (who also sounds wonderful alongside her) and bassist Ron Carter, with whom Dixon first recorded more than four decades ago (on Archie Shepp's The Cry of My People [1972, Impulse!]). "I've never had a chance to work with Ron playing my music, so I reached out to him," she recalls. "If you don't ask, you don't receive."

Dixon's third release hits its stride upon "Orion's Gait" with Carter and Malone, a gently rocking sing-song waltz inspired by the walking pace of Dixon's son in which her cello sounds playfully, almost whimsically, affectionate. "Orion's Gait" turns into the melancholy sharp tango of Akua's Dance, which the cellist describes as, "A cycle, mostly in seven, but with a couple of bars in six floating around" that dances on the Latin feel from Lewis' peppery percussion and Bryant's acoustic guitar solo.

Akua's Dance also transposes two covers into Dixon's unique voice. Sade's quiet storm dancefloor hit "The Sweetest Taboo" proves most inspired, with Lewis tap-dancing the rhythm hand-in-hand with Dixon's smooth, flowing melody on baritone violin, delivering a rhythmic vibrancy and dynamism that other, more stately tunes often seem to want. Dixon delivers the lead vocal of "Throw It Away," decorated by guitarist Bryant and the rhythm section with sublime melodic lines and rhythms, strongly enough to make composer Abbey Lincoln proud (Dixon played cello on Lincoln's 2003 Verve Records' set It's Me).

"I Dream a Dream" and the title track are repurposed from Dixon's in-process opera about New Orleans' legendary 19th century voodoo queen Marie Laveau.

Track Listing: I Dream A Dream; Dizzy's Smile; If My Heart Could Speak To You; Orion's Gait; Akua's Dance; Throw It Away; Afrika! Afrika!; The Sweetest Taboo; I'm Gonna Tell God All Of My Troubles; Don't Stop.

Personnel: Akua Dixon: baritone violin (1, 2, 5, 8-10); Freddie Bryant: guitar (1, 2, 5, 6, 8-10); Kenny Davis: bass (1, 2, 5, 6, 8-10)Victor Lewis: drums; Russell Malone: guitar (3, 4, 7); Ron Carter: bass (3, 4, 7).

Title: Akua's Dance | Year Released: 2017 | Record Label: Self Produced

Tags

comments powered by Disqus

CD/LP/Track Review
Read more articles
Akua's Dance

Akua's Dance

Self Produced
2017

buy
Akua Dixon

Akua Dixon

Self Produced
2015

buy
Moving On

Moving On

Akua's Music
2011

buy

Related Articles

Read Bright Force CD/LP/Track Review
Bright Force
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: April 19, 2018
Read Making Other Arrangements CD/LP/Track Review
Making Other Arrangements
by Bruce Lindsay
Published: April 19, 2018
Read Music in Motian CD/LP/Track Review
Music in Motian
by Mike Jurkovic
Published: April 19, 2018
Read Descansado - Songs For Films CD/LP/Track Review
Descansado - Songs For Films
by John Ephland
Published: April 19, 2018
Read Simbiose CD/LP/Track Review
Simbiose
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: April 18, 2018
Read For Lew CD/LP/Track Review
For Lew
by Jack Bowers
Published: April 18, 2018
Read "Après" CD/LP/Track Review Après
by Bruce Lindsay
Published: August 29, 2017
Read "Creekside" CD/LP/Track Review Creekside
by Paul Rauch
Published: November 13, 2017
Read "The Art Pepper Quartet" CD/LP/Track Review The Art Pepper Quartet
by C. Michael Bailey
Published: May 7, 2017
Read "Life Stories" CD/LP/Track Review Life Stories
by Mike Jurkovic
Published: April 13, 2018
Read "Evergreen" CD/LP/Track Review Evergreen
by Mark Sullivan
Published: December 5, 2017
Read "The Romeo and Juliet Project" CD/LP/Track Review The Romeo and Juliet Project
by Jack Bowers
Published: June 23, 2017