JORDON DIXON — On! (review)

JORDON DIXON — On! album cover Album · 2019 · Hard Bop Buy this album from MMA partners
4/5 ·
kev rowland
Jordon Dixon was born and raised in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. He started playing tenor sax when he was twelve and was performing in local clubs within just three years. After high school, he enlisted in the Marines, serving the country for 11 years and having many opportunities to perform music. After his honourable discharge, he moved to Washington D.C. and enrolled in the music program at the University of the District of Columbia, meeting and playing with Allyn Johnson, who has been the director of the jazz program there since 2005. He graduated in 2016, the same year that he made his recording debut with ‘A Conversation Among Friends’.

He has now returned with ‘On!’, which like his debut is solely comprised of original numbers, and again sees him working with Johnson. The line-up is completed by Herman Burney (bass) and Carroll V. Dashiell, III (drums), while J.S. Williams (trumpet) guests on two numbers as he did on the debut. So, sometimes a quintet, sometimes a quartet, and often even working as a trio (no drums), this is a very interesting album indeed: it certainly doesn’t sound like the work of a band leader who in many ways is new to his craft. This is a string album of complex and interwoven songs, and although everyone has their turn at showing off their chops, this is very much a band designed to work together. The key is definitely the relationship between Johnson and Dixon, as they bounce off each other, repeating each other’s themes and melodies. It is Johnson who takes the singular melody from Dixon and drives it, finessing and stretching the themes so that they provide a curtain against which Dixon can stay within it or move tangentially.

There is a great deal on here to enjoy, from frenetic hard bop to numbers which are far more laid-back and delicate, and it is one of these to which I find myself often returning, “She Meant It When She Said It”, which uses space very much as an additional musician. It is slow, respectful, and Johnson’s production and mastering captures it all in manner which makes the listener feel they are there in that small room during the performance. The bass here is simply sublime, working with the piano to provide the perfect backdrop, while a few delicate cymbal touches here and there is all we hear from Dashiel. Delicate yet powerful, this song typifies what this album is all about.
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