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Bill Dixon Orchestra: Intents and Purposes

Mike Shanley reviews a long-out-of-print reissue

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“I would rather it never be reissued if it can’t be done with the relevant amount of fidelity to the philosophy of its initiation,” says Bill Dixon, in the new notes of this reissued 1967 album. Long out of print, Intents and Purposes respects the late trumpeter’s wishes, and appeals to fans wanting the closest possible thing to an original pressing.

Dixon, who passed away last year, is typically described as a free-jazz trumpeter and is probably known largely for his appearance on Cecil Taylor’s Conquistador. But at the time of this recording, his compositions put him in a unique category that seemed to predict what is now called contemporary new music-a harmonically adventurous classical music-with elements of his peers’ fire music adding to the mix. A tentet featuring reeds, cello, percussion and two basses (Jimmy Garrison and Reggie Workman) perform “Metamorphosis 1962-1966,” which contains colors that get ominous and contemplative. Saxophonists Robin Kenyatta and Byard Lancaster offer brief solos that connect the piece to the New Thing sensibility of the day. Dixon’s trademark rasps are found here and in “Voices,” an extended piece for a smaller ensemble. Two brief “Nightfall Pieces” closed both sides of the original album, wherein Dixon interacted with himself (on overdubbed flugelhorn) and flutist George Marge. The whole release compares to very little from that period and offers a stellar example of the composer’s vision.

The brief (32-minute) album contains no bonus tracks, but Chicago’s International Phonograph label has lovingly reproduced the original RCA release like a mini gatefold LP. Surely Dixon would approve.

Originally Published