Saturday, March 01, 2008

Bill Dixon with Exploding Star Orchestra

Bill Dixon with Exploding Star Orchestra, Entrances/One (On Line Edit)

Thrill Jockey Website

"A photographer wanted a shot of Dixon playing his trumpet. "He put horn to lips and played the most sublime, powerful sound I have ever heard from any player ever," says Mazurek. "It was as if the church was going to crack open and a million white birds would fly from his chest, leaving traces of gold and silver in the light-blasted sky. What felt like an eternity was, in fact, one minute of sound. He ended the piece with an ascending flurry, and it was as if his sound had penetrated the granite pillars to be embedded in the rock for all of eternity."

"The experience of working with Bill Dixon on this project was a defining moment in my personal trajectory as a projector of sound and vision," says Mazurek. "Words cannot really describe the power and beauty of Bill Dixon. You only have to open your life and listen."

Dusted Reviews

"Dixon continues to attract criticism from certain segments of the jazz intelligentsia who ascribe him everything from a rampant ego to a charlatan’s desire to cover up lagging chops with gimmickry. This challenging set once again contravenes such claims, suggesting instead that the aging trumpeter is at the top of his game."

"On his composition “Entrances/Two,” Dixon solos above a set of frothy ostinatos, jagged bursts and garrulously executed horns and woodwinds. Sure enough, Dixon enables the mind’s eye to wander as he uses his trumpet as a vocal tool. They surge matters into the ozone, while finalizing the piece on a humble note. And it all equates to thrills a nanosecond as Dixon’s magic hand yields innumerable dividends throughout this wondrously compelling program."

"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."

The Abstract Index:

"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."

Bright Moments

"So as it happens I was standing about 10 feet away from Mazurek and Dixon when they met at the workshop described in paragraph one above. I missed the sound check, but I was there shortly after for the concert in the church, and it were beyond my wildest, as they say.... The next day I got to hang--they say this, really they do--with Bill and his wife Sharon a bit, and that too were way beyond awesome."


"A bit more sprawling than the previous release, Dixon utilizes the darkly glowing backdrops to propel his intensely poetic and spacey solos.

They're a 15-strong jazz orchestra from Chicago under the direction of trumpeter Rob Mazurek. On their new album they're joined by free jazz founding father, fellow trumpet player Bill Dixon - the connection between the two was forged at the Guelph Jazz Festival last year."


"A fortuitous encounter between jazz great Bill Dixon and prolific music diplomat Rob Mazurek at the 2006 Guelph Jazz Festival yields a rare effort that sounds as cool as it looks on paper."

Pop Matters

"The record is an opportunity to hear Dixon in a rare ensemble setting, and see how his mind arranges the tools presented to him by Mazurek, while also seeing how nimbly the Exploding Star Orchestra can help the master realize his visions without compromising them."

Free Jazz

"In all, this is again a magnificent album, finding the right balance between composed orchestration and free improvization, impressive from beginning to end."


"Dixon's two-part Entrances bookends the disc, dedicated to solar storm-brewing, utilising a palette of shimmering vibraphone, dappled piano, murmuring timpani drums and deeply slumbering bass. The co-leaders trade echoed horn spirals, and the Orchestra plays as one cerebellum, shunting from complete spacious abstraction to unstoppably rolling themes."

The Jazz Loft

"Although he's worked with medium-sized ensembles before, there has been little documentation. This new album joins Intents and Purposes and The Enchanted Messenger (Soul Note), an outing led by drummer Tony Oxley, as the only recorded evidence of his work with a larger group."

Time Out New York

"Since the ’60s, trumpeter Bill Dixon has proved himself to be one of the most dedicated vanguardists in jazz, honing an instantly recognizable language on his instrument while composing at a furious rate."

Ear Plug

"Brewing a solar storm, Dixon's two-part "Entrances" bookends the disc with shimmering vibraphone, dappled piano, murmuring timpani, and deeply slumbering bass. The co-leaders trade echoed horn spirals as the Orchestra plays with one mind, shunting from spacious abstractions to unstoppably rolling themes."

Michael Patrick Brady

"Not being well versed in Dixon's oeuvre (only heard a few tracks here and there), I'm pleased to have a bit of an introduction to his style and approach in this context, playing with a group that I am pretty familiar with. The tracks Dixon led, two separate takes of a single piece called Entrances are really the main event here. Mazurek's track, Constellations for Inner Light Projections is fine enough but seems a little pale when sandwiched between Entrances."

I Hate Music:
Dixon on Thrill Jockey?

I Hate Music:: Bill Dixon

Point of Departure:

In his solos, Dixon vents his rage and sorrow with stark lyricism, suppressed screams, airy howls, and gusts of white noise. It’s a devastating, precise performance; he seems to mourn the fading of each note as if it were all he had in an otherwise cold, indifferent universe.

The Wire (Feb 2008)

It’s a thrill to hear his heavily echoed rasps and bleats weave and bank across Exploding Star Orchestra’s backdrop of sparring instrumentalists and polyrhythmic grooves during the opening minutes of both versions of “Entrances”. He should do this sort of thing more often.

Blog Critics

It must have been a thrill for Mazurek to team up with free jazz legend Bill Dixon. You can almost hear that sentiment as Mazurek's flugelhorn and Dixon's trumpet traverse the textures of "Entrances." With intensity swinging from full boil to pensive rubato, it'll keep you on the edge of your listening seat wondering what direction is next.

If you think that it’s just a bunch of musicians playing whatever they want, you really should check out this Bill Dixon record


Given Dixon’s history - having played not only with Sun Ra, but with Archie Shepp and Cecil Taylor, his reputation as one of the most original thinkers in jazz is borne out by the list of those he has worked with - getting him involved makes so much sense. With him on board, they have produced two expansive, technically impressive but above all hugely enjoyable compositions.


Blogger Hank said...

hello, don't know how else to contact you, but there's a great new Dixon audio interview up at to go along w/ the Phil Freeman article in the new Wire.

7:28 AM  

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