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Vade Mecum

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Album Review

The first of two volumes released from this session, Vade Mecum features this remarkably nimble and creative quartet under the direction of Bill Dixon. Not quite free improvisation, Dixon's compositions provide loose frameworks for the musicians, creating subtle structural spaces for the to investigate. In this sense, his work is akin to (and perhaps an updating of) Cecil Taylor's classic Conquistador!, on which Dixon participated. The expansiveness and airiness of the sound here is one of this record's most striking qualities. The two bassists, Guy and Parker, have very different but complimentary personae; the former fleet and inquisitive, the latter dark and probing. With the two of them occupying the middle ground, underpinned by Oxley's uniquely coloristic percussion, Dixon's flights have all the naturalness and unpredictability of a bird's. Vade Mecum II, released separately, arguably attains even greater heights than this recording, but both are vital documents representing the state of improvised music in the '90s.

Biography

Born: 05 October 1925 in Nantucket, MA

Genre: Jazz

Years Active: '50s, '60s, '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s

One of the seminal free jazz figures, Bill Dixon made his mark as a player, organizer, and educator in a career that spanned more than 50 years. Dixon was a jaggedly lyrical trumpeter — his delivery was as vocalic as that of any free jazz trumpeter, except perhaps Lester Bowie. As an improviser, he was somewhat similar in temperament to Ornette Coleman, yet his compositional style differed greatly from the altoist. Dixon's work featured open space, wide intervals that did not imply...
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Vade Mecum, Bill Dixon
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