Bill Dixon: Intents and Purposes (1967) RCA Victor CD reissue (Updated – bonus vinyl rip)

Is it a bird? Is it a plane? No, it is an Evil Silver Disc

Bill-Dixon-CD-cover-1800-LJC

 

Selection: Voices (CD to MP3 lame 160kbps conversion)

Bonus! Voices – original 1967 stereo vinyl rip! (160kbps mp3) courtesy of LJC reader Finsen

Artists

On Voices: Jimmy Garrison (bass), Byard Lancaster (bass clarinet) Catherine Norris (cello), Robert Frank Pozar, (drums) Bill Dixon ( trumpet, Flugelhorn) Recorded RCA Victor Studio B, New York, engineer Don Miller, various dates between 1962-6

Music:

The reissue producers set out their stall thus:

“If ever a jazz LP literally qualified as “legendary,” Intents is it: Deleted practically in transit, it was briefly reissued only once (in France, in the 1970s). It’s at long last been reissued on CD in a fetish-worthy International Phonograph limited edition with original graphics, liner notes, and period Nipper logo, and I envy anyone first hearing it now, because it’s as bold and surprising as anything newly released this year.

The mercurial, essentially romantic temperament revealed throughout Intents and Purposes begs comparison with Charles Mingus: Robin Kenyatta’s deliriously sour dance-band-alto lead earlier on “Metamorphosis” calls to mind Mingus instructing Charlie Mariano to “play tears” on The Black Saint and the Sinner Lady, and the precipitous climate both here and on “Voices,” the album’s other extended work (for quintet), recalls Mingus the Third Stream miserablist of “Half Mast Inhibition.” But unlike Mingus’s romantic sensibility, ’67 Dixon’s expressed itself in abstraction; the emotional payoff is as great, but it requires a greater investment, because even as the dynamics swell and the tempo quickens, the underlying passions never quite bubble to the surface.

(Reprinted from the VillageVoice 13 July 2011 by Francis Davis)

All about jazz offer the following review of the reissue CD:

Intents And Purposes has long been revered as Bill Dixon’s singular masterpiece. Out of print for years, the late trumpet innovator’s magnum opus has been lovingly remastered and reissued on CD, by International Phonograph Inc., in a deluxe mini-LP styled package that replicates the original 1967 issue, providing an important opportunity to reevaluate this seminal work.

On Dixon:

Since his decisive involvement in 1964’s October Revolution in Jazz and lengthy tenure at Bennington College in Vermont (1968-1995), Dixon has been renowned for his skills as an organizer and an educator rather than his pioneering advancements as an instrumentalist and composer. As a former student of painting as well as music, Dixon’s conceptual organization of sound relies heavily on color, shade and texture, with a keen sensitivity to dynamics—aspects that quickly placed him at the creative forefront of the 1960s New Thing.

Of Voices:
“Voices” pushes the aesthetic envelope even further, forming a startling alliance between austere classicism and the primal immediacy of ritualized rhythm. Performed by a string-heavy quintet, the lengthy piece features Dixon’s melancholy horn refrains and Lancaster’s otherworldly bass clarinet drifting over haunting string glissandi that eventually trade the sinuous sustain of legato melodies for the polyrhythmic power of tribal drumming.

Of the CD:

The CD reissue of Intents And Purposes allows the record to finally take its rightful place alongside such masterpieces as Ornette Coleman’s Free Jazz (Columbia, 1960), John Coltrane(Columbia, 1960), John Coltrane’s Ascension (Impulse!, 1965) and Miles Davis’ Bitches Brew (Columbia, 1970). An expansive collection of forward-thinking compositions, this historically important session reveals the then burgeoning New Thing’s potential for more than just exhortative expressionism, helping establish the foundation of what visionary multi-instrumentalist Rahsaan Roland Kirk referred to as “Black Classical Music.”

LJC Thinks some moreLJC says: Hot on the heels of Dixon’s 1964  October Revolution in Jazz, my own take is that this is advanced for “jazz” in the early to mid ’60s, perhaps more in keeping with “contemporary classical” music of following decades, (and possibly many decades before, if I knew enough about it).It makes for quite satisfying extended listening when you are in the mood for more demanding than just “meat and potatoes” .
The tonal  light and shade, with its structured dissonances, lush sonorities  and brooding soundscape punctuated with bleak out-cries and wails will certainly alarm  passers-by on my street, more accustomed to Reggae or Rihanna floating from passing windows.  Also, it is a far cry from Red Bull high energy free jazz, my bête noire, which I for one am thankful.
A change of gear, and a welcome one, my thanks to all the LJC readers who pointed it out to me. I wouldn’t mind auditioning the CD against the original vinyl, though I rather suspect late ’60s RCA Victor may not be sonically outstanding.
Vinyl  CD: International Phonograph (2010) reissue – Sony rights – stereo
The package is certainly enticing for a CD. Perhaps one day they will package them in a 12×12″ laminated thick card jacket 😉

Bill-Dixon-Untents-and-Purposes-package--1800-LJC

Evil Silver Disc – sides 1 & 2, natch’, against the original vinyl label. Nice to see a CD which shows some respect to the original vinyl artefact, rather than that twee mini-LP look which never looks right.

Bill-Dixon-Untents-and-Purposes-CD-and-LP-1800--LJC

The CD “Gatefold”

Bill-Dixon-Untents-and-Purposes-Gaterfold---CD-1800-LJC

Impossible to read at CD-size, so reproduced as liner notes loose insert (previous experience of origami helpful). A quarter-fold down, which should be readable here (click to view full size)

Bill-Dixon-Untents-and-Purposes-liner-notes-1--CD-1800-LJC

Bill-Dixon-Untents-and-Purposes-liner-notes-2--CD-1800-LJC

And finally, the full artists credits. I admit bassist Jimmy Garrison was the only name that registered with me.

Bill-Dixon-Untents-and-Purposes-back-CD-1800-LJC

Collector’s Corner

Well, they said it was very rare – on vinyl (US Japan and France) , so I decided there was no point in waiting a lifetime for a copy to turn up. The CD itself was rare, at a reasonable price – this copy flew all the way from Switzerland. Some times, evil is the only way.

Followers of the evil silver disc planned to celebrate their triumph over the Chief Advocate of Original Vinyl,  LJC, with high dynamic range group chanting and the ritual sacrifice of a virgin (put on hold – possibly indefinitely – as these are now even harder to find than original vinyl).  They decided instead to send out for a curry and have a retro Hammer Films night-in.

Followers-of-the-evil-silver-disk celebrate

Followers of the evil silver disk celebrate their triumph over Londonjazzcollector

The Evil Silver Disc triumphs only briefly. Vinyl will be restored to its rightful superior position next post.

17 thoughts on “Bill Dixon: Intents and Purposes (1967) RCA Victor CD reissue (Updated – bonus vinyl rip)

  1. Yet again my memory failed me and I forgot that you had covered this and that your post was indeed the reason that I sought out the CD version. I’m playing it now, and only for the second time, I think, and it still seems an extraordinary undertaking, quite unlike any of the other advanced or free jazz of the time. I suppose it’s closer to third stream experiments than it is jazz as such, but that hardly seems to matter, unless you must have swing in your jazz…

    I think Andy C’s observation that it sounds like MILES AHEAD reimagined through the NY underground of the time is very close to the mark. Oddly enough, it also struck me that this is very much an “ECM record” before either the term or the label were invented.

    LJC said that he thought the vinyl LP of the time was unlikely to have offered great fidelity. I haven’t compared the sound samples provided, but there is a quote from Dixon in the CD sleeve notes that would at least seem to suggest that that may have been the case.

    “I’m very sensitive about (Intents and Purposes) being displayed for listeners in any format other than the one I conceived. I have wanted to purchase the masters myself, but that has come to naught. I would rather it never be reissued if it can’t be done with the relevant amount of fidelity to the philosophy of its initiation.”

    It certainly doesn’t sound as if he was impressed.

    • I also meant to add that somewhere I read a reference to Mingus’s HALF MAST INHIBITION having some similarities to INTENTS. I had forgotten HALF MAST. Recorded six years earlier by Mingus, using a band conducted by third stream advocate Gunther Schiller, HALF MAST is altogether more classical in sound and intention, it would seem. It’s also somewhat more playful — although it’s hard to imagine Mingus undertaking such a thing without that bearish humour peeping through somewhere or other.

      HALF MAST is good fun — and well done. But INTENTS takes things to a different level altogether. If it has any faults it may be that it takes itself just a touch too seriously. It’s an interesting comparison –- try it and see what you think.

  2. The label used by RCA in those days has been referred to as “black label, white lettering, dog on top.” The dog image was a reduced version of that on 1960-64 LP pressings with the 1954-64 “black label, dog on top” variant; an even further reduction of that dog image was effected on 1965-68 45 pressings with what came to be called “black label, dog on side.” Because the colors used on 1960-64 labels were considerably different to try to match Francois Barraud’s original colors, when regular CMYK was used for this variant the colors appeared more cartoonish.

  3. Well the vinyl rip is MUCH better than I expected. Although there’s less detail overall it does make the CD rip feel a bit strident. A really great record to have in your collection – I would happily swap.

  4. Julius Hemphill’s Dogan AD (evil silver disc) is another fine reissue put out by the same company that did this CD.

  5. I have the French 1970s reissue and it sounds fine. Picked it up for several quid. Fairly challenging stuff but no more so than the Ornette or Cecil of the time.

    • I think it’s one of the great jazz masterpieces – I don’t think Ornette produced anything like it until his Skies of America project and that doesn’t match up to Intents. To me it’s almost a Miles Ahead imagined through the New York underground scene and there’s something a little bit Sun Ra about it as well in its scope. A huge, monumental record.

  6. you don’t know byard lancaster? he did some interesting stuff. check him out!

    glad you like this album. this was one of my personal “holy grails” when i first got into jazz. the original vinyl is a nice collector’s item. while i am not anything near the audiophile you seem to be, my RCA original mono sounds nice and is certainly superior to, for example, a bullseye-logo impulse. but it is the only RCA i own so who knows if it is representative.

  7. Superb stuff. I shall look out for the Soul Notes that SOTISE mentions, if not INTENTS & PURPOSES… I know Bill Dixon but this is entirely new to me — and quite wonderful.

  8. L.J.C, if you have an opportunity check out Dixon’s November 1981, on Soul note,originally a double LP, reissued as part of the complete Dixon,Black Saint- Soul note box set, it’s even better than Intents and Purposes, and one sees the l,p’s around for 20 to 30 dollars… it truly is one of the great jazz records of the 80’s!
    cheers

  9. Also one of my favourite records, i think this is one of those cases where the remastering and packaging is excellent, i cant compare the cd reissue to an original U.S, copy , but i do have the mid 70’s low budget Italian reissue on vinyl, and the CD sounds fuller and more detailed overall ,and compression has obviously been kept to a minimum…

  10. Glad you got to hear it LJC! It’s going to be one of my keepers when I finally sell my collection(most likely in the next four years, I’ll keep you posted).

  11. That’s one of my favorite albums. I am lucky enough to have 2 copies of the original RCA Victor release. One on 2S/1S stampers, and the other 4S/1S stampers. It will be interesting to do a shootout on the CD vs Vinyl on this album!

      • I made and uploaded two rips of the track “Voices”. I think you can see my email address though WordPress’ admin panel? If so, email me your email address, and I will be more than happy to share the links with you.

        • Very interested to see/hear this comparison – think LJC’s mail address is in the contact LJC section. I’d be astounded if the vinyl wins out but enviously pleased as well.

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