17 Musicians in Search of a Sound: Darfur

17 Musicians in Search of a Sound: Darfur

by Bill DixonBill Dixon


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As Bill Dixon's recordings are few and far between, there must also be a profound theme that inspires his music. In this instance, the horrific and under-publicized military-driven genocide in Darfur brought him to make music on the stage of the Vision Festival XII in New York City with a 17-piece band to reflect the anguish and turmoil of the strife-stricken area in the West Sudan region of Africa. But this is not an angry or disgusted expressionistic music, but one that reflects the distant outcries of the people in Darfur who need help from the world community. Dixon, on lead trumpet and as conductor, has formed a band of such mighty improvisers as Taylor Ho Bynum, veteran multiphonic trombonists Dick Griffin and Steve Swell, Karen Borca, J.D. Parran, Jackson Krall, and Warren Smith with a handful of lesser-known creative musicians. The trumpet section with Bynum, Graham Haynes, and Stephen Haynes is most impressive, as are the low-end woodwinds like bass saxophonist Parran, bass clarinetists Will Connell and Michel Cote, bassoonist Borca, and tenor and baritone saxophonist John Hagen. Dixon uses many long tones, swells, and fades throughout the program. The 23-and-a-half-minute "Sinopia" (interesting title) has the instrumentalists assimilating vocal sounds, at times guttural or whimsical, then mysterious, chortling, or inquisitive, held in check within a mezzo forte or lower range. The four-part "Pentimiento" is as brief as "Sinopia" is longwinded, using longer, quicker, and louder tonalites. "In Search of a Sound" may reflect the lack of information coming from Darfur, manifested in more deliberate and dramatic elongated phrases, with short splatters from various bandmembers, and Dixon discoursing with the bass clarinet. "Darfur" is ominous, as you might expect, with timpani signifying a march or maybe an alert signal prior to pained objections turned into a multiplied and articulated instrumental chorale. Borca's bassoon and Smith's vibes dance with Joe Daly's tuba in a stripped-down smaller ensemble during the interplay of "Scattering of the Following." Dixon solos during "Contour Three" with the cello of Glynis Loman, and then the band collectively asks why. The leader also contributed reproductions of the colorful abstract acrylic paintings that adorn the CD booklet. This is a project of austere emotion, clever counterpoint, and searing reality in dedication to a condition in the so-called civilized world that should never, ever be. If you are someone who appreciates the pure improvised music of the singularly original Dixon, this recording needs to be added to your collection.

Product Details

Release Date: 06/24/2008
Label: Aum Fidelity
UPC: 0642623304624
catalogNumber: 46
Rank: 144282


  1. Prelude
  2. Intrados
  3. In Search of a Sound
  4. Contour One
  5. Contour Two
  6. Scattering of the Following
  7. Darfur
  8. Contour Three
  9. Sinopia
  10. Pentimento I
  11. Pentimento II
  12. Pentimento III
  13. Pentimento IV

Album Credits

Performance Credits

Bill Dixon   Primary Artist,Trumpet,Conductor
Warren Smith   Percussion
Graham Haynes   Cornet,Flugelhorn
Dick Griffin   Trombone,Tenor Trombone
Steve Swell   Trombone,Tenor Trombone
Will Connell   Bass Clarinet
Jackson Krall   Percussion,Drums
Karen Borca   Bassoon
Taylor Ho Bynum   Cornet,Flugelhorn
Andrew Raffo Dewar   Soprano Saxophone
Stephen Haynes   Cornet,Flugelhorn
Michel Cote   Clarinet,E-flat Clarinet
John Hagen   Baritone Saxophone,Tenor Saxophone
Will Connell   Clarinet
Joseph Daley   Tuba

Technical Credits

Bill Dixon   Composer,Producer,Cover Art
Nick Ruechel   Cover Photo
Stefan Heger   Engineer
Stephen Haynes   Orchestral Coordinator

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