Joe Dixon

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Joe Dixon, a historic jazz reed player from New England who was especially active in the swing era, should not be confused with the younger trombonist of the same name. There is a stylistic and musical…
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Joe Dixon, a historic jazz reed player from New England who was especially active in the swing era, should not be confused with the younger trombonist of the same name. There is a stylistic and musical connection, nonetheless, large enough to be hooked on the end of a trombone slide. The earlier Dixon appears on quite a few recordings by Tommy Dorsey, a bandleader and trombonist whose particular instrumental approach is certainly important to the modern trombone legacy. An assumption can be made, for those who thrive on this sort of thing, that trombonist Dixon may have become familiar with the clarinet and saxophone playing of the other Joe Dixon while checking out Dorsey.

The former horn was the first reed instrument studied by the player who was also associated with trumpeter and bandleader Bunny Berigan. If pancakes, Dixon's credited sides with Berigan and Dorsey alone would satisfy a hungry mob of frontiersmen. The reedman's evolution from symphony clarinetist through high-school dance bands to Dorsey and other important swingers in the second half of the '30s also follows the fairly distinct arc of popular taste, resulting in a species well positioned to feed himself with employment on the New York jazz scene of that era. Dixon was a member of Dorsey's famed Clambake Seven outfit and was also part of a Gus Arnheim lineup that also included the young Stan Kenton. Through the '50s, Dixon held forth, sometimes leading his own bands, at Big Apple swing enclaves such as Condon's.