Intents And Purposes Limited Edition
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Dixon's trumpet and flugelhorn improvisations flow, jab, dance, flutter, growl and brood through, around and over the other musicians. In some cases, the other musicians are Dixon himself, overdubbed. The first of the two brief Nightfall Pieces has multiples of Dixon and flutist George Marge creating a mesmerizing soundscape. In the second, Dixon ruminates in call-and-response with himself across the stereo channels. Favoring low notes on his own instruments and those of others, he employs the ten-piece group in Metamorphosis to create rich substrata voicings. Bass trombone, bass clarinet, cello and two double basses are among the instruments that provide oddly reassuring contrast with Dixon, alto saxophonist Robin Kenyatta and bass clarinetist Bayard Lancaster, whose solos search almost to the edge of desperation. Metamorphosis includes written passages of subtle complexity that it would be easy to overlook in the passion of the performance.
In Voices, whether he achieves it on paper or by contrivance in the studio, Dixon manages to give his trumpet, Lancaster's bass clarinet, Jimmy Garrison's bass, Catherine Norris's cello and Robert Frank Pozar's drums fullness of sound one might expect from an ensemble half again bigger. Dixon's choice of musicians was eclectic; avant gardists like Kenyatta, Lancaster and Garrison alongside the mainstream trombonist Jimmy Cheatham and Marge, a reliable reed specialist of the New York studio scene.
To his credit, reissue producer Jonathan Horwich saw to it that the Dixon album looks like the original RCA Victor LP, down to the striking cover shot. It is a reminder that record packages were once a pleasure to handle and the notes easy to read. The liner notes are included as an insert that unfolds to nearly the size of an LP sleeve. More important, the quality of the sound recorded in RCA's storied studio B is flawlessly remastered. In a brief addendum to the notes, Horwich writes of Intents and Purposes, ''It stands as one of the most important and revolutionary musical expressions of the 20th century.''
That may be true.
''There was nothing like it before 1966/67 and there has been nothing like it since.''
That is true. --Doug Ramsey, Rifftides, 3/28/11
Very few records are genuinely unique; musicians usually work with known frameworks, and in the rare instances where really new territory is charted, it doesn't take long for settlers to arrive. When RCA released trumpeter Bill Dixon's Intents and Purposes in 1967, however, it sounded like nothing under the sun, and for whatever reason, neither Dixon nor anyone else has explored further along the path he blazed here. On two short pieces for flute and trumpet, and two longer pieces for ensembles of five and ten musicians, he references modern classical devices as well as jazz, and creates a completely organic synthesis. The overall mood is somber and deeply reflective, though Dixon and his young reedmen, Byard Lancaster and Robin Kenyatta, do tear loose for some very impassioned statements. Despite these fireworks, what impresses most is the writing. The textures make us imagine Boulez collaborating with Ellington, the harmonies seem to unite everything from the earth to the sky, and beyond all of this is the sureness with which the music unfolds: a story telling itself in the only possible way, as even developments that seem superfluous when introduced prove to hold essential truths. This masterpiece has only gained in stature with the passing of time. FIVE STARS (first ever 5 Star review from this reviewer!) --Duck Baker, The Absolute Sound
Top Customer Reviews
Artist: The Bill Dixon Orchestra
Album: Intents and Purposes
Review date: Jun. 21, 2011
The Bill Dixon Orchestra - "Metamorphoses 1962-1966" (Intents & Purposes)
One of the jazz world's most eagerly awaited reissues in years, it's a shame Bill Dixon's early masterpiece Intents and Purposes comes after the trumpeter/composer's passing. Composed in the mid-1960s directly following the shot across the bow that was Dixon's famed concert series "October Revolution in Jazz," the four tracks on this compact recording are fascinating even now and no mere period pieces.
And what music! The early minutes of "Metamorphosis 1962-66" are stunning, with huge cloud chords both anxious and serene, containing not just emotional but musical opposites in a way that gives the lie to genre pigeon-holing and so forth. Indeed, the piece's lively contrapuntalism sounds closer to Toru Takemitsu or Harrison Birtwistle to my ears than to Gil Evans, or other large ensemble arrangers to whom Dixon might have been compared at the time. Dixon amassed a fascinating instrumentation to realize these two lengthy pieces (and two fragments which find him in duet with flautist George Marge): bass trombone, alto saxes, English horn, cello and more.
The sonorities and timbres are lush, mysterious and gripping from the start, but for all the detail of the ensemble work, there are riveting improvisational passages. Dixon sounds phenomenal (of course), so bright and fulsome and slashing as he pirouettes in relation to the gorgeous chords moving in and out of the foreground.Read more ›
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.Read more ›
never been able to obtain a copy of the vinyl edition, or even hear it. Now, it's available
in this gorgeous sounding cd and beautifully packaged to duplicate exactly what the ori-
ginal RCA gatefold cover looked like when it was released back in 1967. Recorded when
Dixon was 41 years old, it consists of four brilliant pieces all composed by Dixon with the
trumpeter/leader and a small orchestra of horns, reeds, wind, cello, bass, drums, and per-
cussion. Two of the short pieces feature only Dixon and flute in very intimate, haunting
performances (one of which, "Nightfall Pieces 1", Dixon overdubbs with flugelhorn). The
other two longer compositions, "Metamorphosis" and "Voices", fully explore the nuances
and depth of the orchestra's capability, and are brilliantly interpreted in extended form.
What absolutely astounds me about these performances is not only the depth of the
composing, but also the CLARITY of the sound, and the FABULOUS recording quality. It
is so clear, you could be right there with them. Absolutely brilliant. A magnificent record-
ing now finally available on cd. Sadly, the late trumpeter/composer recently left us, but
"Intents And Purposes" will live on forever as a milestone of what real music can achieve.
I wasn't too familiar with Dixon, but have read that he spent the last 37 years of his life
working and living in New England - a great loss for us all. Kudos to all involved in bring-
ing this long, lost work of art back in circulation (particularly producer Jonathan Horwich).
This one's going in that SPECIAL section of my collection near the Mosaic "Complete Ari-
sta Recordings of Anthony Braxton" box set.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
This is some serious out jazz. Very well orchestrated and performed!Published 8 months ago by richy2times
I do not want to be to critical, just is not my taste, but reminds me of when musicians warm up. I like something with an identifiable rhythm. Read morePublished on June 21, 2013 by Amazon Customer
I know this set has been reviewed already, but the fact that this album has been re-released, with beautiful sound, a beautifully made gate-fold cover (with the original album... Read morePublished on December 12, 2011 by Stuart Jefferson