Bill Dixon

The Complete Remastered Recordings On Black Saint & Soul Note

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Bill Dixon's Complete Remastered Recordings on Black Saint and Soul Note is an enormous nine-disc affair. It showcases a very productive and important period for the trumpeter, composer, and bandleader, and offers a fine portrait of his highly individual contribution to avant-garde jazz between the years 1980 and 1998. While it's true that three offerings here, In Italy, Vol. 1, Vade Mecum, and Papyrus could be considered double albums (example: In Italy, Vol. 2 contains the same players and was recorded during the same sessions as volume one, and the same is true respectively for the other two titles mentioned) disregarding them for music that was left off the initial volumes as inferior or merely as outtakes is a mistake. What the companion volumes underscore is just how deep Dixon's well was; it fleshes out the ideas on the initial volumes. The single album titles here are November 1981, Thoughts, and Sons of Sisyphus. One need only gauge the level of the players on these sides to judge their importance: some include -- but are not limited to -- Alan Silva, Freddie Waits, Mario Pavone, Barry Guy, Tony Oxley, and William Parker. Particular favorites in the set are November 1981, with Pavone, Laurence Cook, and Silva; Vade Mecum, with Guy, Parker, and Oxley, and Papyrus, a duet session with Oxley, where the smallest details, nuances, and notions of space in Dixon's compositional and improvisational languages reveal themselves readily. For anyone who has any of the original LPs or CDs and is questioning whether the investment is worth it, the answer is a resounding "yes." The remastering quality is very high, making (nearly) crystalline the sonic details blurred by the original releases. In the case of compact discs, the thin, brittle sound that marred earlier CDs on Soul Note and Black Saint is much fuller, warmer, and rounder here. Price-wise, there is a very wide range: real bargains can be had by anyone willing to put in a little work on the internet. While many of the sets in this series are wonderful, Dixon's is truly special.

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