447

Bill Dixon With Exploding Star Orchestra: Bill Dixon With Exploding Star Orchestra

Greg Camphire By

Sign in to view read count
Bill Dixon With Exploding Star Orchestra: Bill Dixon With Exploding Star Orchestra Prolific bandleader Rob Mazurek follows his 2007 Exploding Star Orchestra debut, We Are All From Somewhere Else, with this landmark vehicle for the legendary yet elusive Bill Dixon. Bill Dixon With Exploding Star Orchestra is a sprawling meeting of minds, as Dixon fronts a thirteen-piece ensemble on a set designed especially for him. At the height of his expressive powers, Dixon's signature trumpet tones are scrawled all over the album's lengthy suites with masterful artistry.

"Entrances/One" and "Entrances/Two," both written and arranged with spontaneous conducting by Dixon, follow similar paths while offering distinctive experiences. Instruments are constantly in flux, overlapping and blending effectively. A dual-drummer beat with Afro-Latin flair kicks things off, as each musician enters tentatively before the full band swirls in polyphonic, multidirectional interplay. Jeff Parker's guitar creates conversational counterpoint to Dixon's blurred and distorted trumpet smears, while Matt Bauder's sax lifts the ensemble with a commanding presence.

Crafting a pensive feel as the band temporarily subsides, Dixon and Mazurek duet in rubato time over a sheen of heavy reverb and ambient textures. The music gradually dissolves, leaving the Orchestra to operate subtly with swelling whole notes and soft cymbal washes. After dwelling in this calm yet mysterious aura, the sounds linger and fade like midnight fog.

The 24-minute "Constellation for Innerlight Projections (For Bill Dixon)" is Mazurek's multi-section dedication, wherein the musicians follow guest Damon Locks' spoken narrative. The verbal and musical language of the piece touches on metaphysical realms by equating notes of the scales to correlating astrological components.

Cued by Locks' recitation, the Orchestra explodes in a manner recalling John Coltrane's Ascension (Impulse!, 1965): dissonant shards of horn blasts and chaotic harmonic upheaval. Just as quickly, the ensemble lowers its dynamics and Dixon enters magisterially. Each musician articulately takes their turn in repeating the trumpeter's fractured phrases in altered forms, creating a splintered collage effect.

The Orchestra proceeds from one movement to the next with classical precision, shifting gears with abrupt dynamic punctuations as well as carefully considered alterations. Dixon often appears at the forefront with stuttering, effects-laden flurries of sound, alternating with fractured big-band riffs, minimalist exchanges, march-like cadences and periods of hushed stillness.

A luxurious melody enters at one point, with vibraphone and timpani outlining a circular rhythm. The horns swell in descending, bird-like tangents behind Nicole Mitchell's striking flute, soon joined by Dixon and Mazurek. The three co-soloists float around each other with sweet, longing sighs, and eventually build up to a full-bore orchestral climax that blares to a dead stop.

Dixon appears again, ghostly but authoritative. His final solo of the piece is stunning and uncanny, with deep intonations delving into bass frequencies as if in a subterranean echo chamber.

Bill Dixon with Exploding Star Orchestra explores many moods over the course of each kaleidoscopic piece. It may take patience and close listening to fully reveal its rewards, but the results of Dixon and Mazurek's mutual admiration society are well worth a serious investigation.


Track Listing: Entrances/One; Constellations For Innerlight Projections (For Bill Dixon); Entrances/Two.

Personnel: Bill Dixon: trumpet, composer; Rob Mazurek: cornet, composer; Nicole Mitchell: flute; Matt Bauder: bass clarinet, tenor saxophone; Jeb Bishop: trombone; Josh Berman: cornet; Jeff Parker: guitar; Jim Baker: piano; Jason Adesewicz: vibraphone, tubular bells; Matthew Lux: bass guitar; Jason Ajemian: double-bass; Mike Reed: drums, timpani; John Herndon: drums; Damon Locks: voice (2).

Title: Bill Dixon With Exploding Star Orchestra | Year Released: 2008 | Record Label: Thrill Jockey


Tags

comments powered by Disqus

More Articles

Read Eleven Cages CD/LP/Track Review Eleven Cages
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: June 27, 2017
Read Afro-Caribbean Mixtape CD/LP/Track Review Afro-Caribbean Mixtape
by Mark F. Turner
Published: June 27, 2017
Read Wake Up Call CD/LP/Track Review Wake Up Call
by Jack Bowers
Published: June 27, 2017
Read The Late Trane CD/LP/Track Review The Late Trane
by Roger Farbey
Published: June 27, 2017
Read Developing Story CD/LP/Track Review Developing Story
by Edward Blanco
Published: June 26, 2017
Read Inspirations (featuring Matthew Halsall) CD/LP/Track Review Inspirations (featuring Matthew Halsall)
by Phil Barnes
Published: June 26, 2017
Read "Les Deux Versants Se Regardent" CD/LP/Track Review Les Deux Versants Se Regardent
by John Sharpe
Published: February 23, 2017
Read "On The Radio: BBC Sessions 1971" CD/LP/Track Review On The Radio: BBC Sessions 1971
by Roger Farbey
Published: June 6, 2017
Read "The Roc" CD/LP/Track Review The Roc
by Roger Farbey
Published: January 28, 2017
Read "Bright Lights & Promises: Redefining Janis Ian" CD/LP/Track Review Bright Lights & Promises: Redefining Janis Ian
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: April 14, 2017
Read "Waller" CD/LP/Track Review Waller
by Roger Farbey
Published: April 14, 2017
Read "Follow Your Heart" CD/LP/Track Review Follow Your Heart
by Mark Corroto
Published: February 25, 2017

Smart Advertising!

Musician? Boost your visibility at All About Jazz and drive traffic to your website with our Premium Profile service.