Bill Dixon Orchestra - Intents And Purposes
There are albums that help you start your day, and then there are albums that help you end them. The latest offering from Superior Viaduct's ongoing reissue campaign of Avant Jazz essentials, Intents And Purposes (1967) from The Bill Dixon Orchestra, belongs to the latter category. This is an album that offers firm punctuation, a concise conclusion of an experience, and the fulfillment of an intention. You will not put this album on in the car on the way home tapping your hands on the wheel in transition. You will not enjoy this album while making dinner, while your mind balances tasks and mathematics. This is the album you put on when you are ready to come down, or perhaps when you need to come down.
At first glance, the use of the term "orchestra" may seem off considering the context of this album. The hype sticker on the sleeve will boast of its "free jazz" intensity, "One of the richest and most compelling LPs to taunt and tempt listeners into a life of freakdom." - but with an orchestra? But then when considering the peers of this record - Ornette's Free Jazz, Coltrane's Ascension, Mingus' The Black Saint & The Sinner Lady, albums of such mammoth size both sonically and in relevancy, would it be so off to define those albums as containing anything less than an orchestra? Certainly not.
All too often is Free Jazz reduced to intensity for the sake of intensity, cacophonous nonsense, absurd or aimless, or all of the above. As if everyone in the group, or orchestra, is simply making noise just to make noise, and the art is in the endurance. As its title implies, Intents And Purposes carries a sense of focus that sets it apart from many albums that fall on the same side of the shop. Dixon's compositions seamlessly and efficiently weave together elements of what one would find in either a jazz ensemble or a symphony orchestra and the results are that of a unified intent and purpose. His trumpet playing offers a vocal quality that many of his free jazz counterpart's do not. There is a confidence in Dixon's execution of balancing both tradition and defiance that also sets this album a part from its peers. He clearly sees value in the lessons handed down in both classical and jazz genres, but is likewise eager and excited to disrupt those very same concepts in order to reach a new plane of expression.
There are albums that you turn towards in search of comfort, and there are albums that you turn towards to be challenged, to shake your state of mind, or to see something different. However those qualifications are not mutually exclusive, at least not in the case of Intents And Purposes. (Adam)
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