Sunday, October 05, 2014

It Was 50 Years Ago Today...

Happy 50th Anniversary of the October Revolution everyone!

Be sure to share how you celebrated the 50th Anniversary of this historic event in the Comments section!

And of course, (what would be) a very happy 89th Birthday to il maestro.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

One Year Later

It was a year ago today.

Having thought about it daily for the last 364 days, the following wish list has crystalized:

I wish all of Dixon's music--and I mean all of it, the gigantic stack of reel-to-reel tapes in his closets and all the cassettes--were "available." Available by paid download, available by free download, available by purchasing cd's manufactured by the Trust--whatever. That part doesn't matter--not to me anyway.

I wish all of Dixon's written music was also available--either in leather bound portfolio, in photo copy or PDF. Those particulars also doesn't matter as much (to me). It's the knowledge and overstanding I'm after--and for that I'd pay happily. I'm guessing that as time goes on and the rest of the world catches up to Dixon's contribution to music, I won't be the only one interested in that material.

I wish all of the recordings of Dixon speaking (of which there are hours and hours and hours) were transcribed then I wish someone (I wonder who?) would transcribe all those tapes and turn them into two books: The Complete and The Aphoristic. Heck, even golfers love the Aphoristic.

Related to this, I wish all the Dixon interviews from WKCR (as well as any other radio) were also made available (both as audio and as written document) and included in the aforementioned collections.

I wish there was a bibliography of all the books Dixon owned at the time of his death. Actually, I'd like to know all the books Dixon ever read in his entire life, but that might take a while.

I wish there was a record-o-graphy (is that what you call it?) of all the recordings Dixon owned at the time of his death. I'd also like to know all the records Dixon got rid of way back when he had is big record purge. I do remember him saying that one of the records he made a point of keeping was Ornette On Tenor. What else did he keep?

The living man is gone, and for that we are certainly the poorer. There is, however, a huge trove of material generated by Dixon, most of which even his most ardent fans have not heard. Not to be a glutton, as his "official" releases are thick enough to keep anyone busy for a long long time. But there is so much more: A Dixon Apocrypha and Dixon Hadith await.

Just putting that thought-form out there.

Questions? Comments?

Tuesday, October 05, 2010

Happy Birthday Bill Dixon!

Bill, you are missed.

You gave us so very much.

Thank you.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

New Recording, Upcoming Performance

Certainly by now you've heard the news about Tapestries for Small Orchestra.

If you haven't, take a look here, here, here, here , here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, and ici.

Furthermore, Bill Dixon is going to perform with Rob Mazurek's Exploding Star Orchestra in Philadelphia on Saturday, December 5th at 8pm.

But don't take my word for it--read all about it here, here, here, here, here, here, here, and here.

Talk about finishing the year strong!

Monday, October 05, 2009

Happy Birthday Bill Dixon!

Happy Birthday Bill Dixon!

Footage from dress rehearsal at the Vision Festival, 2007

Video footage by Nick Skrowaczewski.

Thursday, October 01, 2009

Dixonia Corrections

Preface to Dixonia Corrections:

The following information relates to the book Dixonia: A Bio-Discography of Bill Dixon, which was created in 1998 as a definitive account of Dixon’s musical achievements to that time.

Even as Dixonia was going to press, the volume itself acknowledged the uphill struggle it faced as a hard-copy work in a discographical world increasingly dominated by virtual data presentations. Had the project started or finished even a couple of years later, the overwhelming evidence in support of malleable, open-structure internet layout might have demanded a twin birth at least.

The 2009–10 effort to update Dixonia is driven by several factors. One is a very basic attempt to redress this discrepancy and give the project some kind of internet foothold. More important is the hope shared by non-fiction authors since Herodotus—to be able to correct mistakes or omissions that have come to light since the text was set. But by far the most compelling is that there has been much music from Bill Dixon since 1998, annotation of which comprises the bulk of this addendum.

More so than most musical artists, Bill Dixon remains in touch with and in command of the sounds and subjects of his artistic past. In light of the timelessness of those past accomplishments, it is hoped that Dixonia will never become ‘outdated’. But the scope of its information has certainly fallen out of touch with the pace, design, and sheer number of significant Bill Dixon activities in the decade since writing stopped.

It will be ironically apparent to many that henceforth this tiny un-self-sufficient cluster of C-series corrections may be easier to find and navigate than the original text they relate to. Nevertheless here we are. To create an entirely revised edition of Dixonia is unfeasible at present and will remain on the wish list, wrapped in the rather vain further wish that certain stylistic, grammatical, typographical, or analytical stances could be re-cast and corrected. For sake of expediency, the effort herein to make these corrections concerns itself with changes that substantively relate to truth and clarity of information, and not to those vanities of style.

Thankfully the discourse has advanced as well.

Dixon continues to discuss his own work—past, present, and future—with a new and eager and audience. Amid the continuing work in tangential fields of Scott Currie and Chris Bakriges, and others, scholars such as Andrew Raffo Dewar, Michael Heller, Ben Piekut, Peter Stubley, and George Scala have brought new analyses, viewpoints and information into the picture. Their corrections and additions will beget further corrections and additions. It may not be in the scope of Dixonia’s presentation to manage a chat-room or discussion site on Bill Dixon’s musical work, but it does stand to reason that if there can be this attempt to correct the course of knowledge about Bill Dixon then there can be others. In honor of the continued unfolding of Dixon’s activities, there must be.

Moving however old-fashionedly in that direction, the following schedule has been adopted for web revisions of Dixonia to be posted:

C-series 10/5/09
D-series 04/05/10
E-series 10/05/10

One further thought…
The preface to Dixonia called for further works of biography, aesthetic studies, etc. Forthcoming faster than such comprehensive works has been the realization that bio-discography really exists simultaneously on multiple planes—that is, the shifting of gears among thick musical description, disc history, correlative tape research, artistic biography, etc. can overtax the medium and especially the need for a connected, flowing, prose exposition. As this preamble is being constructed for the C-series corrections, the efforts are underway elsewhere in the field to create a fully adaptable multi-level bio- discographic tool that can unite the surface narrative with deeper examinations, audio and visual examples, artifactual evidence, and evidentiary meta-data under one roof, but not necessarily on the same page.

Ben Young
September 2009
+ + +

p. 4–6
Hartnett entry
CORRECTION: “Hartnett” is the correct spelling of the conservatory Dixon attended 1946–50. In the original printing of Dixonia, this change was incompletely applied so that both the correct and incorrect spellings appear on consecutive pages.

p. 8
Dixon’s relationship to trumpeter Kenny Dorham may be clarified somewhat by the following: Dixon met Kenny Dorham while the latter was touring with the Billy Eckstine band (probably spring, 1946) . While still an emerging player on the instrument, Dixon recalls specifically one episode of his sitting in with Dorham at Club 25 in Brooklyn, and being helped to navigate the bridge to an AABA standard.

p. 10
To the information in the last paragraph on page 10 should be added the following: “Showman’s on 125th street was right next to the Apollo Theater at that time, in the early Fifties. There was a man named Bob Bunyan, and he ran the thing. He used to let me play there all the time. I’d go and wait my turn; somebody wouldn’t show... He had a trio there. Musicians playing the Apollo would come to sit in, but musicians came from all over. Richie Powell I first heard up close there.” The Showman’s appears to have opened under that name in mid-year 1950. The longevity of the music policy after 1951 is uncertain.
“Then there was the Heat Wave, on 145th Street between 7th Avenue and 8th Avenue. I did lots of playing there.”

p. 11
ca. 1953 NYC
In or around this period, Dixon followed a lead posted—possibly at Hartnett—calling for a trumpet player in a Latin band led by a woman who sang and played maracas. Roughly 7 or 8 instruments. Applying for the job, he was asked if he had a union card, and was hired (on that and one subsequent occasion) to play with the band for roughly ten days, including at least stops in Philadelphia, Long Island, etc. Bill Dixon joined the AFM in 1953, though his recollection is that this episode may have taken place earlier, in his student period at Hartnett.

p. 11
Though not much is pinpointed with this citation, note the episode of BD rehearsing at Newby Studios on 116th and 8th Avenue, as referred to inClifford Allen “Bill Dixon: In Medias Res” All About Jazz September 15, 2009. Dixon makes the following distinction: “At 315 Lenox Avenue, I did a lot of rehearsing a very large band. I would save my money to be able to do that. I never rehearsed there for a job, I don’t remember anything but rehearsing for the sake of rehearsing at 315. But at Newby’s, I did rehearse with other people for jobs and things like that.”

p. 15
CORRECTION: The cross reference to * “R63-0395” means instead to indicate “R63-0495”

p. 17
should be re-identified as 59-1106 and dated November 6, apparently, based on the following text: “Bill Dixon, who has a jazz club among UN employees [is] taking his quartet to Copa City in Long Island this weekend. He features Vinnie Girard on piano.” Jesse H. Walker “Theatricals” New York Amsterdam News November 7, 1959, p. 17
Girard, known by this spelling and the one used in Dixonia, apparently was born Vincente Gerardi.

p. 23
CLARIFICATION: First sentence of second paragraph should more clearly say “Dixon remembers that he played very well”

p. 25
60-0813 Hudson River
August 13, 1960
Bill Dixon (trumpet); other unknown
“Dixon and his group played for a riverboat cruise mit Jazz on August 13, up the broad and nighttime Hudson. Reportedly a great success” from UNJS newsletter, August 1960, p.2
In a separate but not dissimilar episode, Dixon further specifies having played duets with a conga player on one occasion at Camp Unity [relative to the text on page p. 52], at the request of Norman Seaman, whom Dixon met there.

For sake of clarity, Dixon has no connection to and no knowledge of the YWCA performance including the “Bob Dixon Octet” mentioned in “Jazz Artists to Play for Uptown Y” New York Amsterdam News March 19, 1960, p.14.

p. 25
61-0315 P.S. 134: 306 East Broadway, New York
March 15, 1961
BD Matt Notkins (alto saxophone); David Kaye (piano); Ollie Richardson (bass); Warren Rogan (drums)
also sub John Bair (piano)

An 8:00pm Jazz Arts Society appearance. “The programs are informal sessions of actual rehearsals of young and untried musicians who are serious students of jazz.” from “Teenagers Hear Jazz Arts Society Program” New York Amsterdam News March 25, 1961, p. 17
“Dixon was moderator for [the] program and is community program [director] for Jazz Arts Society” per untitled photo standalone in New York Amsterdam News March 25, 1961, p. 17. Pictured are some but not all members of the group. The article details the musical backgrounds of some of the student participants.

p. 25
61-0322 P.S. 134: 306 East Broadway New York
March 22, 1961
personnel unclear; possibly similar in part to 61-0315

follows from “Teenagers Hear Jazz Arts Society Program” New York Amsterdam News March 25, 1961, p. 17, mentioning the previous, this, “and every Wednesday thereafter in the auditorium of P.S. 134 and is open to the public.”
data in this correction, the previous, and the next all elaborate on the discussion on Dixonia p. 337 [U60-0001].

p. 25
61-0323 Forest Neighborhood House: Bronx N Y
March 23, 1961
personnel unclear; possibly similar in part to 61-0315

“Other Community Centers in New York City will be serviced by the society as resources permit.”
mentioned obliquely in Dixonia p. 337; “Forest House” here is the correct spelling of what is misspelled on that page.

p. 30–31
CORRECTION: “Don Oscar Becque” is the correct spelling of the name of this teacher and choreographer. Also misspelled on p. 38 and 39.

p. 34
CORRECTION: Cross-reference regarding Helsinki means to indicate “62-0725”

p. 35
CORRECTION: Ornette Coleman’s recording referred to in this entry is Something Else.

p. 41–42
Much data continues to be missing surrounding the details of the concerts in Finland. Moving closer to a clear picture, though:
o The Eighth World Youth Festival of 1962 followed the 7th one, held in Vienna, by three years (1959)
o Theme of the 8th was “Peace and Friendship”
o The festival has been attributed to either July 27–August 4 or July 29–August 6, 1962
o An obviously one-sided, but nevertheless informative view comes from the hearings of the US committee on Un-American Activities, available in full text at The event is herein referred to as the “World Youth Festival of Youth and Students for Peace and Friendship”. Page 1818 identifies Kansan Uitset as a communist periodical that did cover the festival, in midst of a general press “blackout” of the event, as reported by one student participant in the hearings.

One citation that was left out of Dixonia: Jesse H. Walker “Theatricals” New York Amsterdam News July 28, 1962, p. 17 gives personnel including Shepp, Dixon, Don Moore, and Howard MacRae, and attributes to them an ambition of going to Helsinki, Oslo, and Copenhagen.
As with many of the entries in Todd Jenkins’s highly imaginative “Encyclopedia of Free Jazz and Free Improvisation”, only misinformation is added to the understanding of this period.

ADDITIONAL CITATION: Bertil Sundin article in Orkester Journalen September 1962, p.12+.

p. 46
CORRECTION: Cross-reference regarding the New York Contemporary Five means to indicate “R63-0799”

p. 48
CORRECTION: First line of the Notes section should say ‘...may come from the same date as 62-1000a”

p. 62
ADDITIONAL BIBLIOGRAPHIC CITATION: Hettie Jones How I Became Hettie Jones (New York: E.P. Dutton, 1990), p. 203–04.

p. 63
the cross reference to * “R63-0395” means instead to indicate “R63-0495”

p. 64
Storyville CDs 8209 and Storyville 8385 reissue all of the Dixon arrangements except “Cisum”

p. 65
The name of the director of Future One is correctly spelled “Niels Holt”

p. 66
Substantial revision to this entry is called for based on the CD reissue and updating of the
program of Savoy MG 12184. The reissue Savoy Jazz 93008-2 offers the music in stereo for the first time, and adds two new takes of the development section of “Winter Song, 1964”. The titles of that piece and its counterpart are also listed correctly for the first time, though a minor printing error was introduced: Ted Curson of course appears only on the New York Contemporary 5 side of the recording, and not on Track 9.

p. 69
“The Cellar”
the cross reference to * “U64-0395” appears to be a bogey, without a referent.

p. 77
ADDITIONAL BIBLIOGRAPHIC CITATION for the Freedomways benefit of December 27 described in this entry:
“Gregory in Benefit at Village Gate” New York Amsterdam News December 26, 1964, p. 16. Dixon is mentioned between Abbey Lincoln and Len Chandler in a list of those expected to take part. Sunday December 27, 1964

p. 78
cross-reference to * “U64-1014” should instead refer the reader to The Guild discussion on p. 348–49.
CLARIFICATION: Francis Paudras adds some color and potential confusion to this explanation in Dance of the Infidels, the chapter called “Autumn in New York”, p. 285, 289–91, and passim thereafter. Taylor physically identified the apartment in 2003 where the 64-9090 event is to have taken place, a 13th street brownstone that would seem to fit better the description Paudras makes of the home of Marshall and Rozlyn Allen (p. 287) than the spot (mentioned on 285, 317, etc.) where Coleman had his residence.

Coltrane’s role, as described in this entry was pursued in an extensive and sympathetic meeting in this period among Dixon, Taylor, Coltrane, and Shepp.

p. 79
CORRECTION: Drummer’s name is correctly spelled “Fuhlrodt”.

p. 81
Sabino’s photos of the weekend’s events indicate that Kenyatta, Lyons, and McIntyre were present apparently only for BD’s piece and not the nearby Carla Bley performance(s). It is also likely that tenor saxophonist Bob Carducci was not present for the Sunday performance of Dixon’s work.

p. 83
CORRECTION: Bold citation in notes section should read “R65-0526”.

p. 84
* “65-0695”
This entry was erroneously given the same number as the previous. It should be reidentified as 65-0698
The name of the director of Future One is correctly spelled “Niels Holt”

p. 89
chapter intro: Dixon-Dunn
see as well the note on p. 100 [q.v., below]

p. 99
Bold citation in the notes should be to R75-0628
also ADD BIBLIOGRAPHIC CITATIONS: George Simon “Newport Jazz Proves Jazz Is Here to Stay” Billboard July 16, 1966, p. 3 cont. 38. Dixon’s appearance was also announced in “Newport Jazz Festival Stars Named” in [Chicago] Daily Defender April 19, p. 10; and “Jazz Festival Programs to be Held Over July 4” May 31, 1966, p. 10. Notably, this latter citation supports the early projection that the group would be a quartet.

p. 100
Dance World shows “Dew Horse” in 12/3 and 12/20 1965 performances at East 74th Street Theater that did not involve Dixon as a player or eyewitness. also relevant to the discussion on page 89, q.v.

p. 104
Non-synch sound motion picture footage of this performance was made by filmmaker Jud Yalkut and incorporated into his Black-and white film of the festival’s events, which was hastily edited in the evening and also screened in Central Park the same night as a part of the festival
Film allows confirmation of the personnel except for Pozar, who is not identifiable.
A copy of the film is in the permanent holdings of Electronic Arts Intermix in New York

p. 110
release date can be better pinpointed using the mention from Billboard October 7, 1967, p. 62 citing that the LP was recently issued.

In light of the subsequent unfolding of Bill Dixon’s career as a recording artist and composer, note the poignancy of the following inscription on a copy of Intents and Purposes that he autographed in 1974 to dancer Barbara Ensley: “I hope you enjoy this record. I hope they let me make another one before the century ends.”

p. 111
bold citation in the notes should be to R75-0628

probably 1970–71: High School filmmaker Jan Peterson made a non-verbal color-film documentary on visual artists Al(vin) Smith (1933–2001) with musical soundtrack by Bill Dixon. It screened as part of the Afro-American History course offered by the Metropolitan Museum on August 19, 1971 in the Junior Museum Auditorium, as reported in “Films of Afro-American Geneva Exhibit” in New York Amsterdam News August 28, 1971, p. D3. At least one other magazine citation refers to this film project.
The film used pre-recorded music by Dixon from the Intents and Purposes record.

p. 124
R 68-0000
listening to the recordings of the piece, Dixon identifies the following soloists: Dave Chamberlain (flute); Sonny Simmons (english horn); Arthur Doyle (tenor saxophone) playing constantly repeating triplet pattern

p. 137
bold citation should refer instead to the discussion of Dixon’s songs at R78-1021.

p. 147
note that Odyssey issues all but the “Relay” section with bass guitar added

p. 149
CORRECTION: final bold cross reference on this page should instead refer to R90-1005.

p. 166
CORRECTION: cross-reference should instead cite Patt Lagg’s concert without Dixon at O72-0413

p. 167
CORRECTION: Bold citation to * “R75-1205” should indicate instead R75-1207.

p. 167
Chris Billias places this concert@ Mills Hall, gives personnel and soloists, saying as well that it’s an excerpt of a full concert reading with details similar to 72-0305. His additions to personnel: Herskovitz and Irvin A. McAllister (voice); Russell Allen (percussion); Hal Onserud (bass)
his solo attributions: BD Hagen Horenstein, Ash, Tifft, Verbich, Billias, Jackson

p. 177
CORRECTION: Citation to a Webern at * “R81-0799” should instead link to R82-0626

p. 178–79
R73-0100 and R73-0197
“Shrike” as issued on FORE THREE belongs in the session on the opposite page, R73-0100.

p. 181
chapter intro: BME
CORRECTION: First line of 3d paragraph should read: “The Bennington Music Department”

p. 183
note the connection to BD’s strategies in 1990+ for kinetic orchestration.

p. 184
CLARIFICATION: The festival is here referred to as a 3-day event; Dixon participated on three days out of the 4-day festival.

p. 185
It is entirely likely that the “Webern” performance before an audience described in 73-0599 (p. 187, wherein a citation is also called for) was in fact the concert recording of this festival even wherein Dixon was represented through a playback of a studio-recorded “Webern”.

187: see [C-033] supra

p. 195
A layout error interrupts the list of elements in this piece, which should attach unbrokenly to the list starting on the beginning of p. 196.

p. 211
CLARIFICATION: The first line of data in the notes means to indicate that “Sotto Voce” and “Bennett” were to have been issued on FORE records.

p. 223
CORRECTION: first cross-reference means to indicate “R70-0610”.

p. 226
One dancer’s name in the entry is misspelled twice: She is now known professionally by the first name either Kathryn or Kate but always correctly with surname Bresee.

p. 233 and 234
The last entry on p. 233 and the first on p. 234 are identical; the entry appears twice due to a layout mistake.

p. 236
CORRECTION: Cross-reference to * “R80-0610a” means in fact R80-0611a.

p. 244
CLARIFICATION: BD plays trumpet on fourth selection here.

p. 246
On a trip to Italy, possibly as early as mid-year 1980, but no later than Summer 1981, Dixon made a concert appearance using bassist Miroslav Vitous. The event was produced by impresario Esio Saba, whom BD met in June 1980. Saba subsequently produced Dixon events (for the fall, 1981 tour—and this concert, in the Italian town of “Senegalia”. Dixon was at that time in Italy to prepare the materials for the Labyrinth production.

p. 248
It is believed that this planned concert ultimately did not materialize.

p. 254
CORRECTION: The second bold cross-reference in the notes section means to indicate R81-0516.

p. 256
cross-reference to *”R94-1109” should instead read “R94-1110”

p. 258
Cadence February 1982, p. 62 shows this as BD’s first concert in Switzerland.

p. 261
See also C-series addendum relating to p. 100 and 89, supra.

p. 270
CORRECTION: The filmmaker’s name is of course Ebba Jahn

p. 271
should be re-identified as 84-0527
per announcement in “Artists Alliance Jazz Series” New York Amsterdam News May 19, 1984, p.26

p. 280
Cross reference to * “68-0916” should instead point to page 134.

p. 294
Can we find the date?

p. 295
first line of notes should read “Dixon’s trio appeared as part of...”

p. 302
R86-1010 cross reference to * “68-0916” should instead point to page 134.

p. 304
Personnel list omits Arne Forsum (piano)

p. 306
Fourth sentence should begin: “Dixon announced at the concert that only the first half of ...”

p. 308
because of rain on the day of the events, the venue was changed from the published Teatro Romano to Teatro Nuovo

p. 308
1:01— While Taylor plays at the piano.
Dixon spoken only, gives the benediction for the concert: “I met this man in 1951, to set the dates straight, back in New York.”

p. 314
Zappa should be listed on bass clarinet and not on baritone saxophone.

p. 317
94-1118 and R94-1120
Kolkowski’s first name should be spelled “Aleks”. For the same entries, the cellist’s name should be corrected to “Zimmerli”

p. 318
second bold entry in notes should read “R94-0715”.

SINCE Dixonia

June 22–23, 1998 Studio MuRec: Milano
Bill Dixon (trumpet and fluegelhorn); Tony Oxley (drums, percussion)

Essay di Larry Neal SN 121308
Papyrus --
The Statesman --
Indirizzo: Via Cimarosa Sei --
Scribbles --
Ritratto di Allen Polite --
Cinnamon --
Quadro di Henry Dumas --
Palimpsest --
Steps --
Sine Qua Non # 1 --
Quadro di N.H. Pritchard --
Silver Point: Jeanne Phillips SN 121338
Papyrus # 2 --
Pyxis --
Squares --
Epigraphy --
Sine Qua Non # 2 --
Couplet --
Four VI: 1998 --
Crawlspace --
Suri-Mono: Louise Wade --

released on CD only: Soul Note 121308-2 as Papyrus Volume I
Soul Note 121338-2 as Papyrus Volume II

Order in which these tracks are listed reflects that on the released CDs and likely does not have a relationship to the sequence of recording.

September 10, 1998 Stadtgarten: Köln
Bill Dixon (trumpet); Phil Wachsmann (violin, electronics); Derek Bailey (guitar); Gavin Bryars (bass); Tony Oxley (d); Matt Wand (electronics)

untitled 38:09

Dixon appeared as a special guest in this formation, which had been arrived at as an updating of the original Joseph Holbrooke group, convened on the same bill for this WDR-supported series of performances relating to Tony Oxley’s 60th birthday. See also next.

September 11, 1998 Stadtgarten: Köln
Bill Dixon (trumpet, conductor) with Tony Oxley Celebration Orchestra: Johannes Bauer (trombone); Ernst-Ludwig Petrowsky (alto saxophone, clarinet); Hayden Chisholm, Frank Gratkowski (alto saxophone); Aleks Kolkowski (violin); Phil Wachsmann (violin, electronics); Peter Koch, Alfred Zimmerli (cello); Phil Minton (voice); Sven-Åke Johansson (accordion and voice), Jochen Büttner, Mark Nauseef, Tony Oxley, Jo Thönes (d); Pat Thomas (keyboards and electronics); Matt Wand (electronics)

Paradigm 1998: Köln 47:33

composed by Bill Dixon for this occasion

November 8, 1999 Podewil: Berlin
Bill Dixon (trumpet, fluegelhorn); Klaus Koch, Matthias Bauer (bass); Tony Oxley (drums)

Berlin Abbozzi FMP CD110
-Open Quiet / The Orange Bell
Acrolithes --

FMP CD 110 titled Berlin Abbozzi.
The occasion for this concert was a decennial commemoration of the dismantling of the Berlin Wall. The Podewil concert event featuring groups of Dixon and Cecil Taylor was added on in this spirit as a special joint attraction sponsored by FMP’s Total Music Meeting and the Berlin Jazztage festival.

May 2000 New Age Cabaret: 23 St. Marks Pl.: NYC
Vision Festival V
BD (trumpet, conductor); with The Vision Orchestra:
Roy Campbell, Stephen Haynes, Taylor Ho Bynum, Raphe Malik (trumpet); Jeff Hoyer, Steve Swell (trombone); Bill Lowe (bass trombone); Joseph Daley (tuba); Karen Borca (bassoon); Rob Brown, Sabir Mateen (tenor saxophone); Will Connell (bass clarinet); Stephen Horenstein (tenor saxophone and baritone saxophone); Scott Currie (baritone saxophone); J.D. Parran (alto clarinet and bass saxophone); Glynis Lomon, Julia Kent (cello); John Blum (piano); Klaus Janek and Wilber Morris (bass); Jackson Krall (drums); Warren Smith (vibes, timpani)

Index 55:13

Commissioned for Vision Festival V
This performance used 6 of the 26 composed sections of the work. In alphabetic order, they were D, H, O, P, Z, A
Rehearsalas for the event on April 29 and May 13 were also recorded.

discussed copiously in Frank Rubolino “Bill Dixon: The OFN Interview” One Final Note October 2002

May 19, 2002 Colisee des Bois-Francs
Victoriaville, Quebec: CANADA
Festival International du Music
Actuelle de Victoriaville

BD (trumpet); Cecil Taylor (piano); Tony Oxley (drums)

B + T + C
T ÷ C x B
C x B x T x T

Victo CD 082 titled Cecil Taylor –Bill Dixon –Tony Oxley

discussed copiously in Frank Rubolino “Bill Dixon: The OFN Interview” One Final Note October 2002
Dixon’s appearance in a press conference the afternoon of the performance is also discussed in “What Price Criticism: Bill Dixon at Victoriaville” esse Number 47.

September 20, 2002 Vienna
BD (trumpet, fluegelhorn); Evan Parker (soprano and tenor saxophones); John Lindberg (bass); Warren Smith (drums)

Dixon had planned to include bassist Wilber Morris instead and may have been announced thus. Morris’s death in mid-2002 led to the decision to have Lindberg instead.
substantively discussed in Frank Rubolino “Bill Dixon: The OFN Interview” One Final Note October 2002.

October 25 and 26 Cite de la Musique: Paris
Bill Dixon (trumpet); Cecil Taylor (piano); and Tony Oxley (drums)

August 15, 2003 Tonic: NYC
*scheduled Tonic appearance for the Festival of New Trumpet Music with a quartet did not occur due to blackout aftermath
commuted to R04-0831.

August 31, 2004 John Birks Gillespie Theater,
Ba’hai Center: NYC
Tony Widoff (electronic keyboards); Dominic Duval (bass); Warren Smith (drums)

first set:
BD spoken interlude

second set:
BD spoken postlude

presented by the Festival of New Trumpet Music

R04-1016 Donaueschingen Musiktage, Germany
October 16, 2004
Bill Dixon (trumpet); Cecil Taylor (piano); and Tony Oxley (drums)
Dixon’s discussion of this and the two subsequent performances of this trio appears in discussed in Bill Dixon “The Benefits of the Struggle” All About Jazz June 1, 2005 Note that the durable internet version of this article contains somewhat more information than ran in the edited All About Jazz: New York print version.

BD solo 28:38

November 13, 2004 Auditorio da Universidade do Miaho
Porto, Portugal
Guimaraes Jazz Festival

Bill Dixon (trumpet); Cecil Taylor (piano); and Tony Oxley (drums)

R04-1115 London Royal Festival Hall—
November 15, 2004 London Jazz Festival
Bill Dixon (trumpet); Cecil Taylor (piano); and Tony Oxley (drums, electronics)

Oxley Solo 16:57
BD solo 8:06
BD solo 5:08
Trio 32:47

broadcast in edited form omitting solos by Oxley and Dixon; temporarily available on BBC website

A week’s residency in Wesleyan encompassed Dixon’s composing for orchestra and the following public manifestations:
February 11, 2005 Crowell Concert Hall: Wesleyan Univ., CT
Bill Dixon conducting the Wesleyan Creative Music Orchestra:
Taylor Ho Bynum (cornet); Nale Ash-Morgan (trombone); Zara Acosta, Angela Opell (clarinet); David Kadden (oboe/english horn); Andrew Raffo Dewar (soprano saxophones); Adam Tinkle (alto saxophone); Matt Bauder (tenor saxophone); Jonathan Chen (violin); Josh Bryant, Nick Nauman, Jessada Wharton (guitar); Luke Mecklenburg (lap steel guitar); Amy Crawford, Max Heath, Jessica Kellar (piano); Andrew Lafkas, Carl Testa (bass); Jennifer Caputo (timpani); Aaron Siegel (vibraphone); David Jensenius (computer); Joe Mariglio (closed feedback loop circuitry); Philip Schulze (live electronics); Anne Rhodes (voice)


the Saturday morning before Dixon’s trumpet solo included his participation in a panel discussion on the “State of Improvised Music” featuring Ran Blake, Anthony Braxton, Dixon, and Francesco Martinelli.

February 12, 2005 Crowell Concert Hall
BD (trumpet) unaccompanied


Dixon’s performance, titled the Art of the Solo, was dedicated to the late Allen Polite and Gordon Parks. Dixon’s program note along these lines addresses specifically some of the issues relating to the piece and his solo work at large.
Pianist Ran Blake also performed unaccompanied on the same bill.

All three of the above episodes were streamed live via the website.

June 4, 2005 Canadian Center for Architecture: Montreal
BD (trumpet) unaccompanied brief solo
Part of the “Project on Improvisation” conference sponsored by McGill University exposition on and by Dixon involving his visual art works, solo trumpetry, and discussions of both.
announced in Paul Serralheiro “Exploring Improvisation Between in the Arts” La Scena Musicale [internet journal] Vol 10, No. 8 May 14, 2005
discussed in Bill Dixon “The Benefits of the Struggle” All About Jazz June 1, 2005. Note that the durable internet version of this article may contain somewhat more information than ran in the edited All About Jazz: New York print version.

June 17, 2005 Angel Orensanz Foundation
Vision Festival X
BD (trumpet); Stephen Horenstein (barsx); Tony Widoff (electronic keyboards); Andrew Lafkas (bass); Warren Smith (drums)


Summer 2005 Hudson, NY
BD (trumpet) + Tony Widoff elp and synthesizer

at least one visit possibly even before R05-0617
one example selected for broadcast 2005 runs 16:27

Further information about these sessions, their precursors, and the beginnings of Widoff’s involvement in Dixon’s music are in “The Dixon Society: Anthony Widoff”
also mentioned in Bill Dixon “The Benefits of the Struggle” All About Jazz June 1, 2005 Note that the durable internet version of this article contains somewhat more information than ran in the edited All About Jazz: New York print version.

August 2, 2005 The Jazz Standard: NYC
BD (trumpet); Glynis Lomon (cello); and Borah Bergman (piano)


Dixon’s second appearance within the Festival of New Trumpet Music (see also R04-0831)

September 20, 2005 Angel Orensanz Foundation
BD solo trumpet

spoken preamble 3:02
trumpet solo 5:35

Dixon spoke and played briefly in this Arts-for-Art benefit for survivors of Hurricane Katrina

October 15, 2005 Earl Hall: Columbia Univ.
BD trumpet unaccompanied

part of a presentation on the sources of Dixon’s visual art, with reference to his music.

October 16, 2005 The Stone: NYC
BD (trumpet, fluegelhorn); Henry Grimes (bass)

Occurring as part of a decennial commemoration of the death of Don Cherry, the concert’s two sets were titled and respectively.

first set “Gifts for Don Cherry” (8pm)
BD spoken address to audience

second set “Don Cherry’s Gifts” (10pm)
BD spoken address to audience

as part of a series curated in remembrance of Don Cherry, ten years after his death.

November 19, 2005 Quebec City, Canada
BD (trumpet, unaccompanied on –1); Michel Côté (contrabass clarinet, maikotron, percussion); Pierre Côté (cello, bass); Alexandre Gregg (piano)

soundcheck solo –1 0:53
ensemble soundcheck 9:54
solo –1 8:09
Marine (in 5 movements) 23:58

January 21, 2006 Pompidou Center: Paris
BD (trumpet); Joe Giardullo (tenor saxophone, soprano saxophone); Warren Smith (timpani, vibraphone, percussion)

3:02 (encore)

June 15, 2006 Angel Orensanz Foundation: NYC

BD (trumpet); with George Lewis (trombone, electronics)


The event included visual projections arranged by Lewis and using some of Dixon’s visual images.

September 8, 2006 St. George’s Anglican Ch.: Guelph, Ontario
BD (trumpet); Joelle Leandre (bass) Guelph Jazz Festival


A September 7 workshop was scheduled: Did BD take part?

June 20, 2007 Angel Orensanz Foundation: NYC
Vision Festival XI
BD (trumpet, cond); Stephen Haynes (trumpet); Graham Haynes, Taylor Ho Bynum (cornet); Steve Swell, Dick Griffin (trombone); Joseph Daley (tuba); Karen Borca (bassoon); Andrew Raffo Dewar (soprano saxophone); John Hagen (alto saxophone); Will Connell (clarinet and alto saxophone); J.D. Parran (bass saxophone); Michel Côté (contrabass clarinet and bass clarinet); Glynis Lomon (cello); Andrew Lafkas (bass); Warren Smith (timpani, drums); Jackson Krall (drums)

recording released on AUM Fidelity AOM 046as 17 Musicians In Search of a Sound: Darfur

In Search of A Sound
Contour One Contour Two
Scattering of the Following
Contour Three
Pentimento I
Pentimento II
Pentimento III
Pentimento IV

Performance preparations included rehearsals on the two prior days and the midday before this evening concert.

July 11, 2007 Ganz Hall: Chicago
Chicago Jazz Festival
BD (trumpet); Ken Vandermark (reeds); Josh Abrams, Nate McBride (bass); Michael
Zerang (drums)

Vandermark reports in his blogs of the period that the ensemble rehearsed on July 10 in preparation for this appearance.

September 1 and 3, 2007 Electrical Audio Studio: Chicago
Bill Dixon (trumpet, conductor) with Exploding Star Orchestra:
Josh Berman, Rob Mazurek (cornet); Jeb Bishop (trombone); Nicole Mitchell (flutes, voice); Matt Bauder (bass clarinet, tenor saxophone); Jim Baker (piano); Jason Ajemian (double bass); Matthew Lux (bass guitar); Jeff Parker (guitar); John Herndon (drums); Mike Reid (drums, timpani); Jason Adasiewicz (vibraphone, tubular bells); Damon Locks (voice)

Entrances / One Thrill Jockey 192
Constellations for Innerlight --
Entrances / Two --

Thrill Jockey 192 titled Bill Dixon With Exploding Star Orchestra

Tracks are listed here in their play sequence on the CD. Exact order of the performance is not known. The first and third pieces were composed by Bill Dixon, the middle one by Mazurek, using as score stills from his own graphic presentation. Sharon Vogel reports that “Constellations...” was composed in tribute to Bill Dixon prior to the beginning of these sessions.

September 2, 2007 Petrillo Bandshell: Grant Park Chicago
Chicago Jazz Festival
Bill Dixon (trumpet) with Exploding Star Orchestra:
Josh Berman, Rob Mazurek (cornet); Jeb Bishop (trombone); Nicole Mitchell (flutes, voice); Matt Bauder (bass clarinet, tenor saxophone); Jim Baker (piano); Jason Ajemian (double bass); Matthew Lux (bass guitar); Jeff Parker (guitar); John Herndon (drums); Mike Reid (drums, timpani); Jason Adasiewicz (vibraphone, tubular bells); Damon Locks (voice)

September 2007 Ste. Petronille Church: Quebec City
BD (trumpet); Michel Côté (reeds); Pierre Côté (cello, bass)


Recording session(s) in this church

July 8–10, 2008 Firehouse 12: New Haven
Dixon (trumpet and electronics): Taylor Ho Bynum (cornet, flugelhorn, bass and piccolo trumpets); Graham Haynes (cornet, fluegelhorn, and electronics); Stephen Haynes (trumpet, cornet, and fluegelhorn); Rob Mazurek (cornet, electronics); Glynis Lomon (cello); Michel Côté (contrabass clarinet, bass clarinet); Ken Filiano (double bass, electronics); and Warren Smith (vibraphone, marimba, drums, tympani and gongs).

–1: omit Côté and brass other than Dixon

Motorcycle ’66 reflections and Ruminations 13:30
Slivers: Sand Dance for Sophia 9:20
Phrygian II 16:04
Adagio: Slow Mauve Scribblings 17:30

Allusions I –1 9:08
Tapestries 12:29
Durations of Permanence 14:45
Innocenza 16:02

These performances and documentary session footage on DVD released 2009 on Firehouse 12 label as Tapestries for Small Orchestra.
Tracks listed in CD play order.

See also substantial narration of the unfolding of this series of projects in et seq.

See also
for the first published excerpt of the audio/video presentation.

Summer/Fall 2008 New England
BD (trumpet); Ben Hall(drums); Aaron Siegel (vibes, timpani, drums)


all times approximate
recorded for release on Broken Research

September 6, 2008 Lodz, Poland
This scheduled appearance Sept. 6, 2008 with Exploding Star Orchestra did not materialize.

November 1, 2008 Frankfurt Jazz Festival
Dixon did not take part in this scheduled appearance Nov. 1, 2008 with Exploding Star Sextet.

August 9, 2009 Anfiteatro ao Ar Livre,
Gulbenkian Foundation, Lisbon
Jazz Em Agosto series:
Bill Dixon with Exploding Star Orchestra: personnel derived from the orchestra on


p. 322
“Brewer” likely should be Breuer”

p. 323
CORRECTION: Notes refer to “64-0204” which is meant instead to indicate “R64-0204”

p. 334
The Future of Jazz panel discussion mentioned in the 5th paragraph here took place on June 26, 1959, according to materials held in the John Benson Brooks archive at the Institute of Jazz Studies, which include an audio recording of a fraction of those proceedings.

Garbled language at the end of 3d paragraph on p. 335 means to say that Dixon’s decision to leave the UNJS was driven by these factors.
ADD BIBLIOGRAPHIC CITATION: UNJS Article in Cincinnati Enquirer May 25, 1959, p. refers to the early days of the UNJS. Likely builds on the AP article filed by William Otis, as described on page 393.

p. 337
ADD BIBLIOGRAPHIC CITATION: “UN Jazz Society Digs Monk, Giuffre Groups” Raleigh _________ June 7, 1960, p. 16.

p. 342
completing the citation to Campbell’s first edition of The Earthly...: This info is on p. ___. Parallel citation in the revised edition, p _______.

p. 347
Valdo Williams’s trio for this engagement included Jimmie Stevenson on bass and Barry Altschul on drums.
The appearance of a Lowell Davidson group including Michael Mantler is also supported by Mantler’s notes to the Jazz Realities LP, Fontana 880 010.

p. 349
“The Guild”
A complementary reading of these details is given by Archie Shepp during his interview with Ben Sidran in Black Talk.

p. 350
Don DeMicheal mentions in a down beat article of ca. December 5, 1964 that David Izenzon took part in this event.

p. 351
ADD BIBLIOGRAPHIC CITATION: UNJS “Jazz Around Town” Bulletin also lists this event.

p. 354–55
U64-1228 et seq:
Note the following rubric for nightly presentations at the Four Days in December
a) Before the concert, a preamble discussion between the musicians and the audience, allowing that audience members could remain anonymous as they wished;
b) the performance;
c) post-mortem discussion of the performance, with same parameters as in a);
d) further discussion, extrapolating—for the first time, in such contexts—to candid discussion of social identities from the audience and the performers

p. 355
The recording survives for the New York Art Quartet performance that closed the series, incl.
“Old Stuff” [later known as ‘Yankee No How’]
“A _______ [A Tchicai piece referred to elsewhere as “#4”]
and [John’s Line] apparently referred to on a subsequent occasion as “Uh Oh”

p. 358
U65-0116 et seq.
Michael Mantler’s notes to the Jazz Realities LP, Fontana 880 010 place him in at least one of the performances at the Cellar by the Paul Bley small groups that played there. This should turn out to be one or more of the following: U65-0116, U65-0129, U65-0214, U65-0229, U65-0402.

p. 363
Omitted from the Dixonia entry is information that this concert involved mainly the Cecil Taylor Unit (Jimmy Lyons, Michael Mantler, Reggie Workman, and Andrew Cyrille) in addition to this solo piano performance of what was called “Careful Softshoe”.
Also reviewed in Martin Williams “Caught in the Act” down beat May 9, 1965, p.36. This entry cites as well to the names of the pieces

p. 366
Sabino’s photos of the weekend’s events indicate that Kenyatta, Lyons, and McIntyre played only on BD’s piece and not the nearby Carla Bley performance(s).
This citation in Dixonia neglected to mention that the two of the pieces recorded at this event (Saturday, April 10, 1965) were used in the first Jazz Composers’ Orchestra LP, Fontana 880 011

p. 367
The full name of the Haines tape is “An All-Ethnic Electric Program”

p. 367
“Newport 65”
CLARIFICATION: The panel discussion mentioned here occurred at Fordham University. Appearing as part of it were Wein, Nat Hentoff, Archie Shepp, Mort Fega, and others, moderated by Father Norman O’Connor. Dixon was not on the panel but spoke from the audience. A transcript of the panel discussion appeared in Jazz and Pop.

p. 368
ADDITIONAL BIBLIOGRAPHIC CITATION: The three Savoy projects of Spring 1967 are mentioned in the press announcement in “3 Savoy Sessions produced by Dixon” Billboard June 24, 1967, p. 7.

p. 371
“Cevera Jeffries”, is the correct spelling of the bassist’s name.

p. 376
should be re-identified as:
X61-0723 Merryall Community Center: New Milford, CT
weekend of July 23, 1961
Lecture on the “Anatomy of Contemporary Jazz” using recorded examples.

p. 376
Jazz Arts Society
see also new additions in the performance section (supra) of this compendium of corrigenda:
61-0315, 61-0322, and 61-0323 C-010 through C-012

p. 378
ttp:// reports that the 11/9/63-aired From The Musician’s Point of View interview with Teo Macero was to be rebroadcast June 20, 1964 on KPFK in San Francisco

to add:
November 21, 1999 Sista’s Place: Brooklyn

Dixon was interviewed by Ahmed Abdullah and lectured in the series curated at this venue.

p. 383
Fall 1971 BME members: Henry Letcher in fact did not take part.

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Sunday, September 27, 2009

Justin Perdue

Guitarist and visual artist Justin Perdue was kind enough to answer our questions regarding Bill Dixon, Bill Dixon's ensemble class, the Bennington College music division as a whole and more. Thank you Justin Perdue!

+ + +

Q: When and where did you first hear the music of Bill Dixon.

A: I may have heard some (without realizing who it was) previously, but the first time I deliberately listened was during my first term at Bennington - the first time I really heard Dixon's music - was doing some listening with some of the "usual suspects." It was the Thoughts album and it knocked me out - think we listened to it twice or more in one sitting. It was like some strange deja vu - as if I'd finally had a music from a dream: Something I'd been expecting to hear, something that seemed innately right and made sense to me on an intuitive, instinctual level (similar to hearing Trane or Bird for first time). It resonated with me. Not to trivialize the music, but the sensation was akin to that of tasting a Cuban cigar or a great wine or dessert for the first time - as in:Ahhhh, so this is what it supposed to be like...

Whatever the case, I had the good fortune to make the acquaintance of bassist Jeremy Harlos around this time - he was working w/Dixon ensembles, and had other Dixon recordings which he hipped me to. Had similar reactions to my "Thoughts" episode upon initially hearing Intents and Purposes and Son of Sysiphus - that latter of which probably impacted my playing/conception the most at the time and for years following.

Q: What was your musical background at that point? What else were you listening to at the time?

A: I grew up being more exposed to visual art than music, my father being a sculptor. I always had an appetite for music though, and early on sifted through theirLPs on got into Beatles and other sundry folky stuff like Donovan and Pete Seeger (of all things) as a kid (typical early 70s kid-fare, I s'pose ...). Took up the trumpet in grade school, but remained largely unexposed to jazz. Do recall that the school band had painfully poor intonation, and I could scarcely bear to endure our rehearsals/concerts. Not sure my intonation on the horn was much better, but I could definitely hear that something was quite wrong with the band: We were trying to play Sousa stuff that ended up sounding closer to Harry Partch. It was chorus class which really cemented my desire to do music - my teacher did a lot to encourage/challenge me, singling me out for (what seemed at the time to be) bizarre exercises like singing in a different key than she was accompanying in, singing in different keys than the rest of the chorus, etc. Right off the bat I was comfortable with this kind of pan-tonality, and never found it odd, grating or "off-key" - likely an early indicator of my future musical tastes...

Anyway, perhaps the band experience was part of what led me to quit the horn and take up guitar when I was 12 - it was certainly easier to keep in tune. Certainly my interest in Beatles, etc. contributed. I started out learning basics and moved on to the rock/folk stuff I was listening too. By the time I got to Bennington, I'd had had some composition training in classical (12-tone, Schoenberg-type stuff mostly), several years of classical guitar training, and the typical guitarist's high-school garage-band background of the time in "blues," psychedelic/progressive rock, etc.

I'd become frustrated by the harmonic/stylistic limitations of rock guitar by the time I got off the boat at Bennington. Was more interested in finding ways to get some of the "avant-garde" classical music ideas I'd been exposed top out of the guitar, but to have it infused with energy/passion/rhythm - not the antiseptic/clinical feel I'd gotten from much of the atonal classical music. So, needless to say, I had big ears for "jazz" and was listening to everything in the genre that I could once at Bennington - from Art Tatum to Cecil Taylor - but initially gravitated towards Miles and Trane (early-mid quartet - through Love Supreme). Dixon's music fit right in - just the kind of sounds and conception that I wanted to hear...

Q: What made you choose Bennington College? Was it the music program? Did you intend to study music when you arrived?

A: I arrived at Bennington intending to study music and painting (leaning more towards music) - I was particularly eager to become more immersed in "jazz" as I'd been exposed to a lot more in the way of visual art, given that my father is a sculptor and (visual arts) educator. I spent some time with bassist Jeremy Harlos on my college visit to Bennington - got some sense of the music program from him, seeing a group he was in play, and got to meet some of the other musicians studying there - all of which left me with a positive impression, a sort of simpatico feeling. I didn't meet Dixon or Brooks on this visit, but just students. The politics of the music dept's "divisions" (i.e. black music/white music weren't apparent to me during the visit). I was intrigued by the "Black Music" side of the music program that I gained some insight into during my visit - recall that it was the visit and meeting the cats studying the music that (began to) open my eyes to what could be studied at Bennington - don't recall getting such a compelling sense of it from the catalog/printed materials I'd seen prior to that. Anyway, probably on account of the visit and the sense of the "Black Music dept" the scales tipped enough towards Bennington's music program to make a difference. Other schools I'd looked at like Oberlin & Wesleyan had left me nonplussed - these seemed more classically-oriented; Ithaca struck me as very formulaic-jazz oriented kind of a liberal arts Berklee. Suppose I was more interested in rebelling against the "tyranny of the bar line and triad" (to paraphrase Dixon) at the time - and Bennington seemed more the place for that kind of thinking...

Q: Setting Dixon and your work with him aside, what were some of the other music classes you remember taking? What were the high-points? Did any of these classes inform or support your work with Dixon?

A: Being a "music major" at Bennington (at least during the political climate present there in the late 80s) I had to take the requisite assortment of non-Black Music classes in the music dept. This involved the usual gamut of composition, history and theory classes. Such requirements became a bone of some contention at the time - questions were being raised as to why couldn't one study exclusively "Black Music" to fulfill music major requirements, etc - generally it was an ugly situation, and not a particularly healthy learning environment. Various (thinly veiled) political agendas were in play constantly - it was next to impossible not to get caught in the crossfire, and there were certainly a few casualties. So, in a roundabout way of answering this question - yes, there were some high points, but also too much wheel-spinning on politics and areas of study that didn't seem (and still don't, in hindsight) terribly relevant. So, enough about that.

After enduring some of the requisite classes with "shrubby" I managed to settle in to doing much of my officially sanctioned composition work with Allen Shawn, who was very supportive of my Black Music studies, and my incorporation of the "jazz idiom" into my compositions. My composition "process" involved essentially "transcribing" music in my head - in many ways the same music I would have improvised. Stylistically or idiomatically it was all music to me, improvised or written down. Other highlights for me were hearing Shawn's "readings" of my compositions - to hear the music realized on piano, etc. Also, though (regrettably) I didn't manage to study directly with him, listening to Lionel Nowak play on several occasions was definitely a learning experience.

Q: Tell us a little about Dixon's ensemble class and your participation in it. How long were classes? How were they structured? Was there written music or did you "just improvise?" Also, what was the level and kind of musicianship in the ensemble? Were the players coming from a "Jazz" background? Where they coming from a "classical" background?

A: Ensemble classes with Dixon were a trip. A real adventure. Classes could begin with Dixon arriving and regaling us with colorful "jazz history" anecdotes out of Dixon's past about how "the man was fuckin' with my [archie shepp's] mind," surreal diatribes about African cross-hatched chicken, or possibly an explanation to a student as to the importance of "getting to the point where you can wear a hat." Or, the ensemble might arrive to find Dixon already there, intently the midst of playing his horn, whereupon we'd set up quietly and begin playing along. Sometimes the bulk of the class would be passed in this manner, Dixon communicating and teaching with the music and few gestures and glances - we might not actually get to talking until the end of the class, after an hour or so of playing... Classes often ran over when the music was happening - several hours with little or no discussion until the very end was not uncommon. This latter was often this case during the time I was in the ensemble class along with a group of other players that were largely on the same level of playing, played together consistently outside of class, and were generally on the same page. I think in that ensemble, most of the players were pretty immersed in the music that we were working on with Dixon - most had come from a background of some formal training in jazz or classical, but at the time were focused almost exclusively on improvised (and other music) akin to what was going down in the ensemble class.

There were certainly periods where we worked on written/structured pieces, sometimes part of a class was devoted to this, sometimes all of it. There were written/structured pieces that were rehearsed for concerts, where Dixon brought in some of his collaborators to augment the ensemble class. Classwork also consisted of "exercises" - working in specific, narrowly defined textures, etc. A classic Dixon exercise that comes to mind: "play a unison line with me" - after which he'd play a blistering line that spanned the range of the horn and the whole gamut of dynamics, densities and micro-tonalities, with the expectation that a student (or perhaps some/all of the ensemble) would play along, "note for note." definitely got me thinking about some outside the box guitar techniques. overall, Dixon's ensemble classes - and how he had me participate in them - did a lot to open up my thinking about the possibilities of the guitar texturally and orchestrally, blurring the lines between soloist and rhythm instrument, yet also nurturing my conception of how the guitar could be more like a horn; more linear and less percussive/chordal...

Q: Lionel Nowak is someone readers of The Dixon Society will remember as being sympathetic to Dixon's aesthetic, and now we have the name Alan Shawn. How did the rest of the music faculty deal with Bill Dixon's music? For those who didn't deal with it particularly well, what musical reasons (if any) did they give?

A: Apart from Arthur Brooks (who was obviously many orders of magnitude closer to and involved with Dixon's music, having actually studied, performed & recorded with Dixon), Nowak and Shawn seemed the most respectful of Dixon's music. Several others (deeply embroiled in the Music Dept's twisted internal politics) were openly hostile to Dixon and his music. Otherwise, there seemed a general lack of any real grasp of what Dixon had done and could teach with regards to composition. Also, it seemed his unorthodox playing techniques was met with scorn or plain bewilderment by some. Here's a good example of the breadth of the gulf of opinion as to what constituted good technique: one of the composition teachers, who was a ("classically-trained") bassist not only dismissed Paul Chambers' playing as "out of tune" but also ridiculed Art Davis for the way he used his left hand pinky while playing. Needless to say, said bassist didn't approve of Dixon's playing either. I'm not really sure what the musical reasons for this type of thing was - apart from some kinda "my way or the highway" rationale...

Q: How was Bill Dixon perceived by the non-musical faculty and student body? Were his concerts well received? Was his work respected? Was he respected?

A: Dixon and his music were either embraced or eschewed by the non-combatants outside the music division - it was hit or miss, all or nothing: people either heard it or they didn't. It was an acquired taste that few seemed to labor much to acquire if they didn't like it from the git-go. I think a number of students and faculty alike were a bit intimidated by Dixon. He was definitely not viewed as a wallflower by anyone that I can recall. Come to think of it, I think many were intimidated by his music as well - and in response, some rejected it outright as too abstract or far out, others blindly championed it for the very same reasons, and (perhaps most interestingly) some faced up to the unknown and really tried to come to terms with it, gradually digesting it over several semesters (or years).

Q: You play guitar and Bill Dixon plays the trumpet. Was there a guitar teacher at Bennington college at the time? Did Bill Dixon ever give you a "guitar" lesson? What was Bill's relationship to the guitar? Did he ever tell you specifically what he wanted out of you as a guitar player, or were you left on your own to "learn by doing?"

A: "Learn by Doing" was definitely a big aspect of guitar playing there at the time. There was a cat Matt Henderson there for a while (early during my stay, maybe freshman of sophomore year, before I was heavily involved with Dixon ensembles) - he came out of a Robert Fripp approach to the guitar, which I was already familiar with to some extent. Matt did a lot to help me along the "Learn by Doing" path - helping me think of how I could develop exercises for myself, etc. He was also supportive in my switching to tuning the guitar in fourths, which necessitated the development of my own exercises, and ironically forced me to be self-taught ever since. So, I created my own exercises, voicings and scale patterns - and (at the urging or Dixon and Brooks) got my hands on Andrew White's Trane transcriptions. Also got into Nicholas Slonimsky's "Thesaurus of Scales and Melodic Patterns" (all of which I'm still digesting and working on)...

Dixon's "guitar lessons" often revolved around the "play a unison line with me" approach (as I mentioned before), which nudged me into developing some rather unorthodox techniques for speed-picking (for unisons with his ascending runs), scratching of the wound strings, and tremolo/"whammy bar" de-tuning (for non-tempered notes/chords and sub-tones). Dixon also had me play "bass" in various orchestrations, which opened up my thinking about the lower end, and finger/thumb picking. In many respects though, I viewed all of it as a guitar lesson - it was all about finding a way to get the sound that I was hearing, the sound the music wanted. The lesson was that technique was a means to that end, and that one could get there using whatever means possible, however unorthodox they may seem.

Q: What did you do musically after graduating from Bennington College? After graduating from Bennington College and entering the "real world" what did you feel were your musical strengths and your musical weaknesses? Was there something you didn't get out of the Bennington College that you wished you had? Did you feel like your experiences with studying Bill Dixon gave you an "advantage" or unique insights in your musical pursuits?

A: I played a bit in NYC after Bennington - mostly at the Knitting Factory - the "free jazz" scene. Played, recorded and toured with saxophonist Jack Wright after that, and eventually settled into a gig working as an accompanist with the Middlebury College Dance Dept. This was also the beginning of a stint with the So-Called Jazz Sextet, based out of Vermont. We made several recordings and toured through the mid-90's, working with the Dance Dept. periodically.

I think I came out of Bennington with a good sense of the music and it's history, a very focused (and somewhat narrow) idea of what constituted a viable approach to improvisation, a relatively unique technical approach to the guitar, and solid composition & arranging skills. What was lacking? In retrospect, I found myself still "learning" standards and more bebop-oriented styles after Bennington. Not to focus on this was certainly a choice I'd made while there - I'd chosen to immerse myself more in pure improvisation. Post-grad, there certainly were some lean times when having all the Berklee bop chops would've helped out - but, I truly wasn't as interested in "tunes" during that time... Truly, I have only gradually arrived at a real appreciation of bebop and "straight-ahead" playing that evolved out of an initial immersion in and love of "free jazz" (a path that many others seem to traverse in the opposite direction). So as for unique insights/advantages, perhaps that's it: coming at it from a different direction, not being daunted by "learning by doing"/teaching myself on an ongoing basis, approaching the guitar with my own home-brewed techniques, realizing that I'd rather play in my own style (for better or worse) than trot out the coolest licks somebody else just played... Striving to make some honest music that reflects what I'm really hearing/feeling at any given time.

Q: How much of your music now references your experiences studying with Bill Dixon? What's on your musical horizon?

A: Most of it (both consciously and unconsciously). While I don't often find myself literally playing much of anything I'd worked on with Dixon, much of the conceptual underpinning of my playing - and the way I hear music and approach improvisation and guiutar techniques as mentioned above - stems from those studies. I'm mostly working with original compositions at this point, and foresee continuing to do so. These are by and large "tunes" - chord changes, melodies, structure - but, hearkening back to more improvisational approaches, I really view these as vehicles for just that. The level/degree of abstraction upon these forms strikes me as being only limited by what I can hear and technically execute. So, I'm really looking to continue synthesizing influences from Wes Montgomery to Trane to Dixon to Hendrix to James Brown to Monk (...etc...) into my playing and composing - to find the commonalities and transitions between these supposedly disparate "styles", and despite whether or not it neatly fits into some category or another, to bring forth the music that's been informed by all I've heard, imagined, learned and unlearned...

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