Friday, June 18, 2010

Bill Dixon, RIP

...or should I call this entry, "Here's one of those entries where I get maudlin again."

(By the way, playing right now: Chicago Underground Duo - Boca Negra)

I just got an email that trumpeter Bill Dixon passed away on Wednesday at the age of 84. He had been battling an unidentified illness for the last two years. Which means he was probably not in the best of health when he recorded with the Exploding Star Orchestra for Thrill Jockey. Not that you could tell that by the quality of his playing.

Dixon had a pretty unique style of trumpet playing. For years I thought the master version of "With (Exit)" on Cecil Taylor's Conquistador was inferior to the alternate take because in the master, Bill sounded like he lost his embouchure and was blowing a lot of air and the notes were slipping away. Then a couple years ago, I heard a recent recording by him and discovered this is an intentional way he plays. It's his style.

If you're suffering from some disease, would you keep it a secret from the public? If you've built your career on defiance and the pursuit of original ideas, chances are you wouldn't want to sound like you're trying to get sympathy for your situation. You just keep plowing on. I mean, look at David S. Ware. He soldiered on while in need of a kidney transplant doing dialysis by himself. He's not in the best of health, but he's still here. Do we sit back and say, "Wow, that's really a shame," and leave it at that, or should we do something else? Buy albums? Pray?

Sorry, no answers tonight, just a bunch of rhetorical questions.

By the way, here's the official Bill Dixon obit, provided by his family:

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