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...

327

Bill Dixon: Bill Dixon With Exploding Star Orchestra

Troy Collins By

Sign in to view read count
The arrival of a new recording featuring an extremely rare appearance by legendary trumpeter Bill Dixon is reason enough for celebration. When said album also features cornetist Rob Mazurek's Exploding Star Orchestra, the rewards are twofold.

Bill Dixon came to prominence organizing the 1964 October Revolution in Jazz, while simultaneously co-founding the Jazz Composers Guild, featuring fellow visionaries like Paul Bley, Sun Ra, and Archie Shepp. Despite his seminal beginnings, Dixon's discography has been sporadic, due to his lengthy professorship at Bennington College (1968-1996), which limited his touring and recording. Retiring in 1996 to run independent workshops and master classes, he recently received the 2007 Vision Festival Lifetime Recognition award, raising his profile after years of relative obscurity.

Starting out in the early 1990s as a straight-ahead hard-bopper, Rob Mazurek has undergone a stunning transformation, emerging as one of today's most creative artists, boldly fusing sound and vision into new hybrids, as documented on last years kaleidoscopic performance DVD, Chronicle (Delmark).

After meeting at the Guelph International Jazz Festival in Ontario, Canada in 2006, Dixon and Mazurek decided to collaborate on large scale pieces featuring Mazurek's all-star Chicago-based Exploding Star Orchestra. Epic in scope, the album unfolds gradually, featuring two variations on a long-form composition from Dixon and a single extended piece from Mazurek.

This expansive studio recording blends the driving assault of counter-weaving harmonies and propulsive cross-rhythms featured on the Orchestra's debut, We Are All From Somewhere Else (Thrill Jockey, 2007), with their newfound role as monolithic sound generators for Dixon's cryptic meditations on sound and space. Looser and more dynamic than their previous effort, the session vacillates from dense chromaticism to ethereal pointillism.

Dixon's two variations progress with an almost glacial severity, slowly intensifying before steadily undulating and drifting into the ether. Balancing brief individual statements with collective improvisation, the compositions largely eschew extended solos, favoring nuanced segments that highlight the myriad electro-acoustic timbres of the Orchestra.

Mazurek's ode to Dixon is a virtual concerto for the elder statesman. Opening with a spoken word intro from Damon Locks, the Orchestra erupts into a brief, roiling fanfare before navigating hushed aleatoric passages and rich veins of minimalist melody punctuated by churning tribal rhythms and fervent ensemble charts.

Dixon's singular voice emerges as a beacon throughout, unfurling a languid series of spectral, brassy glisses, acerbic whinnies and low gutteral moans, delivered with his distinctively raspy timbre and breathy attack. Exploring the many permutations offered by the Orchestra, Dixon veers from plangent lyricism to textural abstraction and beyond.

A rare but welcome addition to Dixon's discography and a highpoint in the budding career of Mazurek, the powerful and multi-layered Bill Dixon with Exploding Star Orchestra is a classic that will be studied for years to come.

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

Related Articles

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 Bright Force CD/LP/Track Review
Bright Force
by Dan McClenaghan
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 "Oh, Clara!" CD/LP/Track Review Oh, Clara!
by Jim Olin
Published: September 3, 2017
Read "Float The Edge" CD/LP/Track Review Float The Edge
by John Sharpe
Published: July 23, 2017
Read "Overneath" CD/LP/Track Review Overneath
by Mark Corroto
Published: February 15, 2018
Read "Far From Over" CD/LP/Track Review Far From Over
by Mark Sullivan
Published: August 28, 2017
Read "Inspired by Nature" CD/LP/Track Review Inspired by Nature
by Ian Patterson
Published: July 14, 2017
Read "The Four Seasons" CD/LP/Track Review The Four Seasons
by Roger Farbey
Published: November 16, 2017