Learn How

We need your help in 2018

Support All About Jazz All About Jazz is looking for 1,000 backers to help fund our 2018 projects that directly support jazz. You can make this happen by purchasing ad space or by making a donation to our fund drive. In addition to completing every project (listed here), we'll also hide all Google ads and present exclusive content for a full year!

338

The Bill Dixon Orchestra: Intents And Purposes

Troy Collins By

Sign in to view read count
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.

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 and Robin Kenyatta'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's Free Jazz (Columbia, 1960), John Coltrane's Ascension (Impulse!, 1965) and Miles Davis' 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 referred to as "Black Classical Music."

Tags

comments powered by Disqus

More Articles

Read Makes the Heart to Sing: Jazz Hymns CD/LP/Track Review Makes the Heart to Sing: Jazz Hymns
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: December 16, 2017
Read Song of No Regrets CD/LP/Track Review Song of No Regrets
by Jack Bowers
Published: December 16, 2017
Read Sounding Tears CD/LP/Track Review Sounding Tears
by John Sharpe
Published: December 16, 2017
Read Lighthouse CD/LP/Track Review Lighthouse
by Glenn Astarita
Published: December 16, 2017
Read Kill The Boy CD/LP/Track Review Kill The Boy
by Chris Mosey
Published: December 16, 2017
Read Rain or Shine CD/LP/Track Review Rain or Shine
by Jack Bowers
Published: December 15, 2017
Read "By A Thread" CD/LP/Track Review By A Thread
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: July 18, 2017
Read "Genesis, Mystery And Magic" CD/LP/Track Review Genesis, Mystery And Magic
by Mark Sullivan
Published: July 6, 2017
Read "Agrima" CD/LP/Track Review Agrima
by Jerome Wilson
Published: October 21, 2017
Read "Dream a Little Dream" CD/LP/Track Review Dream a Little Dream
by Victor L. Schermer
Published: November 16, 2017
Read "Together, As One" CD/LP/Track Review Together, As One
by Ian Patterson
Published: February 16, 2017
Read "Silhouettes" CD/LP/Track Review Silhouettes
by Roger Farbey
Published: May 14, 2017

Support All About Jazz's Future

We need your help and we have a deal. Contribute $20 and we'll hide the six Google ads that appear on every page for a full year!