June 25, 2024

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Interview with Jordon Dixon: The soul in music comes from life experiences of the musicians: Video

Jazz interview with jazz saxophonist and composer Jordon Dixon. An interview by email in writing.

JazzBluesNews.Space: – First let’s start with where you grew up, and what got you interested in music?

Jordon Dixon: – I was born a raised in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. I grew up in a very musical family. My Father was a local R&B singer who, while in the US Army, traveled around the world singing on United Service Organizations (USO) tours in the 1960’s and 1970’s. My brothers and sister all sang or play musical instruments, so the hunger for music came to me naturally. I discovered Jazz at the age of 13. The first recording I heard was John Coltrane’s “Giant Steps” and was amazed that a Saxophone could do that. I was in love ever since.

JBN.S: – How did your sound evolve over time? What did you do to find and develop your sound?

JD: – My sound evolved through listening to different recordings of the greats and experiences (positive and negative) on the bandstand in the moment. I hone my sound through long tones, transcribing solos, in an attempt to sound like what I am hearing.

JBN.S: – What practice routine or exercise have you developed to maintain and improve your current musical ability especially pertaining to rhythm?

JD: – I cannot emphasize enough, long tones. After that, I play different types of scales in different patterns, work on a variety of jazz standards and non-standards, and finish with sight reading as my musical dessert. In regards to rhythm, I practice EVERYTHING with a metronome. I also practice difficult phases very slowly and gradually increase the tempo.

JBN.S: – Which harmonies and harmonic patterns do you prefer now? You’re playing is very sensitive, deft, it’s smooth, and I’d say you drift more toward harmony than dissonance. There is some dissonance there, but you use it judiciously. Is that a conscious decision or again, is it just an output of what goes in?

JD: – I prefer to create harmonic shapes that are pleasing to hear and easy to understand upfront so when dissonance is used, it has more of an impact. I have devices that I hear and deploy as necessary, but I try not to have “set idea” on how every note I play is supposed to sound. Jazz is a reactionary, communal conversation between the musicians and the audience, so it is some stylistic “give and take”.

JBN.S: – What’s the balance in music between intellect and soul?

JD: – I believe as musicians we have to show that we know what we are doing. By having a firm understanding of the tunes, there inner workings, and their structure, we can stretch the sound effectively. Soul in music comes from life experiences of the musicians manifested through a musical medium.

JBN.S: – There’s a two-way relationship between audience and artist; you’re okay with giving the people what they want?

JD: – I believe as musicians that we are first artists, but we are also entertainers. Some people (not me), believe music is not a necessity in their daily life. When I have an opportunity to perform for people, I really try to make it special. I don’t believe in playing music that I don’t like. I feel it is more about being honest with yourself as a musician and your abilities, finding your audience (when ready), and having fun!

JBN.S: – Please any memories from gigs, jams, open acts and studio sessions which you’d like to share with us?

JD: – When I was 15 years old, I had a band director named Mark Gulley (R.I.P.). He was a drummer on the Louisiana/Texas/ Mississippi jazz scene. He saw how serious I was about Jazz so he offered me a job. He told me, “I’ll take you to my local gigs, feed you for the evening, and drop you off at home at the end of the night. All you gotta do is: Load my drums in the trunk of my car, unload them at the gig, set them up and at the end of the gig, break them down.” I agreed. He told me to bring my horn (His horn he was loaning out to me) just in case a cat on the scene needed to use it. After a year or so of being a jazz roadie, we were at a gig and before the second to last tune, he got on the mic and said, “Ladies and Gentlemen, we got a young cat on the scene that’s trying to deal with this music. Y’all take it easy on um.” I looked around for the person he was referring to. He then looked at me and said, “Go in the alley and warm up”. I was so nervous, but I played “In a Sentimental Mood” and it was well received. That night, I met numerous musicians who practiced with me and booked me for gigs. I am forever grateful for the opportunity Mark gave me.

JBN.S: – How can we get young people interested in jazz when most of the standard tunes are half a century old?

JD: – Jazz appreciation has to come from the top down. If parents expose their children to Jazz at a young age, it will stick with them. Jazz has a bad reputation as “old people music”. That could not be further from the truth. Its lots of young, hip cats out there playing great original music and reinventing jazz standards, but I also I believe the music has to evolve without losing its identity.

JBN.S: – If you could change one thing in the musical world and it would become a reality, what would that be?

JD: – If I were king of the music world and could change one thing, more serious musicians in all genres would be given an opportunity to make a living wage playing music.

JBN.S: – Who do you find yourself listening to these days?

JD: – I recently have been digging on John Coltrane’s “Both Directions at Once”, Cannonball Adderley’s “Mercy, Mercy, Mercy, Live at The Club”, and “Reginald Cyntje’s “Rise of the Protester” featuring Reginald Cyntje-Trombone, Brian Lee-Settles-Tenor Saxophone, Herman Burney-Bass, and Lenny Robinson-Drums.

JBN.S: – What is the message you choose to bring through your music?

JD: – My music has many different messages. However, the overall themes are: Gratitude, Community, and Love.

JBN.S: – Let’s take a trip with a time machine, so where and why would you really wanna go?

JD: – I would definitely go back to the 1950’s during the Miles / Sonny / Trane type era. I have always dug that music, but also their personal style. When I was a young guy (15-16), people would tell me that I was the oldest young person they ever met. I attribute that to my style which is reminiscent of that time.

JBN.S: – I have been asking you so far, now may I have a question from yourself…

JD: – From your experience, where do you think is the most welcoming scene (worldwide) for musicians to move to, live, and play Jazz? Please take all aspect into account.

JBN.S: – Thanks for answers. In Smolyan, Prague, London, Paris, Roma, Tbilisi, Istanbul, Boston and etc …

Interview by Simon Sargsyan

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