Bill Dixon

Bill Dixon

born on 5/10/1925 in Nantucket, Massachusetts/MA, United States

died on 16/6/2010 in North Bennington, VT, United States

Bill Dixon

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.
Bill Dixon

Bill Dixon (October 5, 1925 – June 16, 2010) was an American musician, composer, visual artist, and educator. Dixon was one of the seminal figures in the free jazz movement. He played the trumpet, flugelhorn, and piano, often using electronic delay and reverberation as part of his trumpet playing.[1]


Dixon hailed from Nantucket, Massachusetts. His family later moved to Harlem, New York City when he was about 7.[2] His studies in music came relatively late in life, at the Hartnette Conservatory of Music (1946-1951). He studied painting at Boston University and the WPA Arts School and the Art Students League. During the early 1950s he had a job at the United Nations, and founded the UN Jazz Society.[3]

In the 1960s Dixon established himself as a major force in the jazz avant-garde movement.[2] In 1964, Dixon organized and produced the 'October Revolution in Jazz', four days of music and discussions at the Cellar Café in Manhattan. The participants included notable musicians Cecil Taylor and Sun Ra among others. It was the first free-jazz festival of its kind. Dixon later founded the Jazz Composers Guild,[3] a cooperative organization that sought to create bargaining power with club owners and effect greater media visibility. He was relatively little recorded during this period, though he co-led some releases with Archie Shepp[1] and appeared on Cecil Taylor's Blue Note record Conquistador! in 1966.

He was Professor of Music at Bennington College, Vermont, from 1968 to 1995, where he founded the college's Black Music Division. From 1970 to 1976 he played "in total isolation from the market places of this music", as he puts it. Solo trumpet recordings from this period were later released by Cadence Jazz Records, and later collected on the self-released multi-CD set Odyssey along with other material.

He was one of four featured musicians in the Canadian documentary Imagine the Sound (along with Cecil Taylor, Archie Shepp, and Paul Bley), 1981.

In recent years he recorded with Cecil Taylor, Tony Oxley,[3] William Parker, Rob Mazurek, and many others.

On June 16, 2010, Bill Dixon died in his sleep at his home after suffering from an undisclosed illness.[2][4]


As leader

Soul Note Records
  • 1980: Bill Dixon in Italy volumes 1 & 2 with Alan Silva, Freddie Waits
  • 1981: November 1981 with Silva, Laurence Cook, Mario Pavone
  • 1985: Thoughts with Peter Kowald
  • 1988: Son of Sisyphus
  • 1994: Vade Mecum volumes 1 & 2
  • 1999: Papyrus volumes 1 & 2
Other labels
  • 1962: Archie Shepp - Bill Dixon Quartet (Savoy)
  • 1964: Bill Dixon 7-tette/Archie Shepp and the New York Contemporary 5 (Savoy, split LP)
  • 1967: Intents and Purposes (RCA)
  • 1981: Considerations 1 & 2 (Fore)
  • 1984: Collection (Cadence)
  • 1999: Berlin Abbozzi (Free Music Production) with Matthias Bauer, Klaus Koch, Tony Oxley
  • 2001: Odyssey (Archive Editions)
  • 2007: 17 Musicians in Search of a Sound (Aum Fidelity)
  • 2008: Bill Dixon with Exploding Star Orchestra (Thrill Jockey)
  • 2009: Tapestries for Small Orchestra (Firehouse 12)
  • 2011: Envoi (Victo)

As sideman

  • Conquistador! (Blue Note, 1966, Cecil Taylor)
  • Opium for Franz (Pipe, 1977, with Franz Koglman)
  • The Enchanted Messenger: Live from Berlin Jazz Festival (Soul Note, 1996)
  • Taylor/Dixon/Oxley (Victo, 2002, with Cecil Taylor and Tony Oxley)
  • Bill Dixon/Aaron Siegel/Ben Hall: Weight/Counterweight (Brokenresearch, 2009)

As producer or composer

  • The Marzette Watts Ensemble: The Marzette Watts Ensemble (Savoy, 1969) (producer and composer)
  • Marc Levin and his Free Unit: The Dragon Suite (BYG, 19??) (producer)
  • Jacques Coursil Unit: Way Ahead (BYG, 1969) (composer)


  1. 1.0 1.1 [Bill Dixon at All Music Guide Allmusic biography]
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 Ratliff, Ben, Bill Dixon, 84, Voice of Avant-Garde Jazz, Dies, The New York Times, June 19, 2010.
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 Fordham, John, Free-jazz trumpeter with a hypnotic, slow-moving sound, The Guardian, 22 July 2010. URL accessed on 12 June 2011.
  4. [1]

External links

  • Audio Recordings of WCUW Jazz Festivals - Jazz History Database
  • His official site
  • "Bill Dixon: In Medias Res" (feature article/interview by Clifford Allen)
  • New York Times obituary
This page was last modified 02.11.2013 23:39:25

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