Eric Dixon

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Barely six lines of copy in The Encyclopedia of Jazz seem suitable for a performer with a sparse discography, not the kind of haystack of sides recorded by multi-instrumentalist Eric Dixon. Not that any…
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Barely six lines of copy in The Encyclopedia of Jazz seem suitable for a performer with a sparse discography, not the kind of haystack of sides recorded by multi-instrumentalist Eric Dixon. Not that any proper ratio has ever been defined between discographical mass and biographical text -- especially when so many biographers seem more concerned with what musicians are up to when they are not making records. Dixon most likely did have periods when he wasn't making records, despite contrary impressions from what he accomplished between his 1950 professional debut and his death in the late '80s.

Some discographical sources extend Dixon's period of activity up through 1994, something of a welcome breather considering that nearly 200 albums resulted. This discrepancy may also result from the probable existence of more than one musician named Eric Dixon, though few details really need to be stripped away from the one-man discographical hoard. Practically every credit found under this name will be for some combination of arranging and woodwind skills. Dixon was primarily known as a tenor saxophonist and flutist; on the former axe, he liked the bold and intelligent soloing style of Paul Gonsalves, a star tenor man with Duke Ellington's band.

Using this model as well as details from more rambunctious players such as Eddie "Lockjaw" Davis, Dixon spent nearly two decades working out his own solo niche within the rival band of Count Basie. Hipsters will recognize Dixon from the superb early-'60s sides by Ahmed Abdul-Malik, a unique modern jazz bandleader and composer. In such creatively challenging situations, Dixon shows mighty spunk, earnestly and unflinchingly delivering what is totally proper. He is also an interesting jazz flutist and recorded on several ranges of clarinets as well. Dixon's book of snappily titled compositions includes "Bug Out" and "Pootin' It."