JordON DixON's ON!
Featuring: Allyn Johnson:Piano
Herman Burney: Bass
Carroll V. Dashiell, III: Drums
J.S. Williams: Trumpet
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Voted "Best Tenor Saxophonist of the Year" in 2016 by Washington City Paper
Born in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, Jordon Dixon grew up in a very musical family. He started his musical path at the age of 12. By the age of 15 he was sitting in at local bars and clubs, while continuously honing his raw talent. In the summer of 2002 at the age of 19, he enlisted in the United States Marine Corps as a Marine Musician. After 11 years of honorable service to the United States, he moved to the Washington D.C. area to play and study music with some of the best musicians and instructors in the world, and here is where he currently resides. In April of 2016, Jordon released his debut album, “A Conversation Among Friends” and was honored by the Washington City Paper as the “Best Tenor Saxophonist of 2016”.
Just one month after his album release, Jordon earned a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Jazz Studies from the University of the District of Columbia. Jordon Dixon continues to stay hungry, humble and disciplined in his musical quest.
The Reviews are in!
Downbeat June 2019 Editor's Pick
Jordon Dixon: ON!
There’s something to be said for the sturdiness of blues, bop and ballads, and D.C.-based tenor saxophonist Jordon Dixon digs into each for his second leader date, On!
A Louisiana native, the bandleader took on the burden and distinction of serving in the Marines for 11 years, according to the album’s press notes. After an honorable discharge, he headed to D.C. to study music and hooked up with Allyn Johnson, a pianist and educator who’s prominently featured across the new recording. The pair’s readily apparent rapport really is what enables On! to swing so easily.
“What You’ve Done For Me,” a muggy ballad, features the pianist in an expansive mood, Johnson’s solo plunging from one end of the keyboard to the other. As the bandleader takes back the spotlight, Johnson’s support might come off as a bit too busy, but still manages to hit all the right spots. On “Flame And Friction,” trumpeter J.S. Williams contributes fanfares linking it all back to the bandleader’s home state, adding further historical context to a recording that’s utterly beholden to the past, but somehow refuses to seem stuffy, reserved or artless.
For On! to be Dixon’s second long-player and to come off as assuredly as it does seems to mean that even as the well-worn combo of blues, bop and ballads heads into its ninth decade, there’re still players creative enough to invigorate the concoction.
By Dave Cantor
Jordon Dixon's On! is a Medley of Joyful Noise
The tenor saxophonist draws from a deep jazz well.
The joyful On! is not so straight-ahead as it would have us believe. Don’t misunderstand: Tenor saxophonist Jordon Dixon does draw from the soul-jazz well. His vinegary tone and middle-register tendency evoke Stanley Turrentine or Wilton Felder, and he has a gruff, slightly coarse edge from the days when the line between swing jazz and R&B was much finer. His tunes—he wrote all nine on the album—comprise short, memorable hooks that he weaves into cohesive packages. He even has his pianist and co-producer Allyn Johnson double on organ for the first tune, “Notes from the Nook.” Is the Louisiana-born Dixon going downhome, or what?
Having baited the hook with populist soul, however, Dixon proceeds to subtly subvert it from within. The aforementioned “Notes from the Nook” is a Frankenstein’s monster of form: AAB, with six bars of 4/4 time in the A’s and 10 waltz bars in the B. The changeups continue in the solo sections, with Dixon and bassist Herman Burney playing blues choruses (five and two, respectively) and Johnson firing off two in the 22-bar written form. It’s mostly a message to musicians and deep listeners. Still, the component parts are just atypical enough that the casual fan might hear that something’s a little off.
It’s not an isolated incident. “Way Too Serious” has a short bridge that changes meter every bar; “We Kin” is a conventional song form, but drummer C.V. Dashiell plays in a Latin-seasoned 3 while everyone else works in 4. The 12-bar blues “Flame and Friction” drops the subtlety and becomes a full-on tease, with the band (including guest trumpeter J.S. Williams) going silent in the 11th bar before Dashiell re-enters to turn it around. (On the reprise, the tune simply ends at bar 10.)
Even here, though, there’s not a whiff of being too hip for the room: You couldn’t get more blues feeling into “Flame and Friction” (especially Burney’s long bass intro). Ditto for “Notes from the Nook,” whose weird shape shifts are all chock full of soul. Some of the tunes have little to no trick to them. “Lee Lee Dee (Alternate Version)”—so-named because a ballad rendition appeared on Dixon’s 2016 debut album—is 64 bars instead of the standard 32. That’s it: It’s long. It also drips with swing, and climaxes with Dixon and Dashiell trading fiery but easily-digested eights. “On!,” after its exquisite Johnson intro, is a plain old groover, and Jordon, Johnson, and Burney make hay of it. Williams returns for the New Orleans stomp “Fake Flowers,” and the only thing remarkable about it is the quality of his hollering solo.
One of jazz’s great obstacles is the music’s own identity crisis: a tug o’ war between its earthy folk-music element and its cerebral, iconoclastic art-music one. Yet along comes Jordon Dixon, effortlessly creating a stable and thoroughly pleasurable compound without it seeming to even occur to him that the two elements might be incompatible.
JUN 6, 2019
JORDON DIXON, On!
On his highly anticipated follow-up to debut A Conversation Among Friends, Jordon Dixon turns the simmering fire up and the adventurous energy On! With a vibrant, multi-hued melodic and percussive style that has earned him favorable comparisons to Dexter Gordon and Stanley Turrentine, the fast-emerging saxophonist brings a unique, multi-faceted background to this slyly soulful, deeply bluesy and percussively eclectic collection.
Raised in Baton Rouge – you’ll know he’s from Louisiana after hearing his New Orleans flavored romp-stomp ensemble jam “Fake Flowers” – he served in the Marines 11 years (performing music throughout his service) before moving to Washington, DC and enrolling in the music program at the University of the District of Columbia.
Like A Conversation Among Friends, On! is a colorful extension of his time in academia, with pianist Allyn Johnson, director of the school’s music program since 2005, providing keen harmonic grounding and off the chart solos that play off Dixon’s wide range of emotions. While its playful title might suggest non-stop grooving, Dixon and his ensemble – also featuring bassist Herman Burney, drummer Carroll V Dashiell III and explosive trumpet spots from J.S. Williams – mine the lows (as on “What You’ve Done For Me” and the slow sizzling blues of “Flame and Friction”) along with the spirited, explosive highs (“Lee Lee Dee”).
May 7, 2019
Hugely soulful sax led jazz Jordon Dixon – ON!:
You just haven’t heard superb sax work like this lately, folks… it doesn’t release until June, 2019, but features some very STRONG players… @allynjohnson88 on piano, @cvdiii on drums, @hermanburneymusicandphoto on bass and @jswilliamsmusic on trumpet, and they’re all right “ON”, so to speak… his tenor sax just SHINES on tunes like the 6:12 “Notes from the Nook“… I have NO doubt that you’ll be hearing this in MAJOR rotations on jazz shows ’round the globe.
Jordon started his musical journey at the ripe young age of 12, & by age 15, he was playing in clubs, getting his chops together… you’ll hear the clear evidence of just how well he “got it” via the title track, “On!“… beautiful piano intro segues (right at the :45 second mark) into a totally rockin’ tenor solo with lots of call/response with the other stellar players… I just LOVED this track, & have no doubt you will as well.
The 9:09 “Flame and Friction” starts off with some mighty mellow bass lines, & feels much like the late-night jazz cellars I used to haunt in Frankfurt, Germany, way back in my early days in jazz… for some reason, this reminds me of some of the Eddie Harris stuff I used to dig down into so deeply; a SUPERB jazz tune!
One thing that really stood out for me is that Jordon served proudly in the U.S. Marines (as a musician)… since I spent so many years roaming the world and absorbing the music all ’round the globe in the military, this means a lot to me… the power he absorbed during those years seems to come through in full force on the opener, “Notes from the Nook“… definitely an award-winning performance.
Of the ten songs Jordon offers up, the clear winner for my personal favorite is (without doubt) the laid-back performance on “She Meant it when She Said it“… what attracted me to it the most is the “pacing” of the piece… the use of the silent spaces to emphasize the emotions being portrayed is expert!
I give Jordon and his magnificent players a MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED rating, with an “EQ” (energy quotient) rating of 4.98 for this fine jazz adventure.
April 3, 2019
“On!” by Jordon Dixon a superior sophomore effort
Tenor saxophonist Jordon Dixon has put together a tight ensemble of players to bring his follow-up album to life. A collection of nine original tracks (one of which gets reprised in an alternate version, which makes a total of ten tracks on the recording), “On!” is a surprisingly refreshing take on the traditions of soul, jazz and hard bop. There are bluesy moments, too. The quintet of players shine on the songs and audiences will likely be hard pressed to pick a favorite song from the release.
Dixon’s latest album is self-released, but it has all the polish of a so-called traditionally recorded album. More importantly, the talent is there. All the polish and production in the world cannot hide a lack of talent. While all the songs on “On!” are worth multiple listens, two that stand out are “Way Too Serious” and “Flame and Friction.”
About Jordon Dixon
Dixon began playing the saxophone at age 12. By age 15, the teen was sitting in with professional musicians and playing in clubs. Unlike some musicians, Dixon’s route to full-time professional musicianship was a bit circuitous. Instead of the typical high school to college to graduate school with some performing along the way, Dixon entered the US Marine Corps. While enlisted, he served as a musician. Eleven years later, upon his honorable discharge, Dixon enrolled in the music program at the University of Washington D.C.
His musical knowledge and talent caught the attention of one of his professors, Rusty Hassan. Hassan writes the liner notes for Dixon’s latest release. He also has worked as a jazz broadcaster for more than 50 years. Hassan heard Dixon’s debut CD, “A Conversation Among Friends,” which was released around the same time as the saxophonist was preparing to do his senior recital. Hassan liked the recording so much he played it on his jazz program on WPFW-FM.
Dixon majored in Jazz Studies. And, now, with his second release and slightly different lineup of musicians, he is poised to make an even bigger name for himself.
“On!” by Jordon Dixon
The sound of “On!” is classic. The jazz isn’t “smooth,” as in the subgenre, but it is smooth in terms of its delivery. As effective music often does, the tracks on “On!” have the power to make listeners to feel as though they are being shown the roots and evolution of jazz. The music is serious, but not always solemn, and the music is not treated as novelty. Each track engages, which does not always happen.
“Way Too Serious” by Jordon Dixon
The song opens with a jaunty motif by Dixon. The tenor saxophone is at the forefront of the soundscape. Still, the drums push the song and the energy. The piano and bass work together effectively, and when each instrument gets a showcase, it is a nice surprise. The piano is especially “tinkly”; the showcases lead back into the main motif of the song. Sparse drum beats signal a change in approach. Everything happens quickly. Trying to figure out where each note intersects with another is much like charting dancer’s steps. It might be possible, but at best it will be difficult, and at worst it will distract audiences from the art being played.
“Flame and Friction” by Jordon Dixon
The song opens with a sparse, blues-inspired upright bass motif. Each note seems to take on a life of its own, and audiences do not have to strain to hear each string’s vibration. Hearing each aspect of the notes gives the song a live feel. The placement of the bass at the forefront of the soundscape makes listeners curious about where the song will go next.
As the bass continues, in a subtle move, the drums enter with a shimmering roll. The piano comes in, as well. The other instruments compliment the bass, but don’t overwhelm it. When the tenor saxophone offers up its own bluesy sound, the piece gains texture and nuance.
“Flame and Friction” has such a lived-in, old-school sound that those who did not know better would be sure that the song was a tribute track.
“On!” will be available June 7, 2019 from iTunes, CDBaby and Amazon.
Dodie Miller-Gould - April 4, 2019
JORDON DIXON – “ON!” Independent label
Composer, tenor saxophone player, Jordon Dixon has a gritty, blues-laced sound on his horn. On the first composition, “Notes From the Nook,” and one of my favorite cuts on this CD, his ensemble steps out with a bang. Pianist, Allyn Johnson, is featured and is a member of the University of the District of Columbia (UDC) faculty. He spearheads their jazz program. Once Jordon Dixon offers up his melody, groove and inspired saxophone solo, Johnson lays down his own improvisational beauty on the grand piano.
Bassist, Herman Burney, has been greatly influenced by the church, inspired by artists like Mahalia Jackson, Aretha Franklin and James Cleveland. In younger years he played clarinet, drums and tuba, before embracing his love for the bass instrument. This could have been inspired by the booming bass voice of his father, who sang the bass part in an a‘Capella group.
Drummer, Carroll V. Dashiell III has a stellar resume. Among many accomplishments, he was the Kelvin Washington Orchestra drummer. Then, from 2005 – 2012, he performed on the Congressional Black Caucus Awards Television Show, with the Clarence Knight Orchestra. He also has his own CD release, “Heir to the Throne.”
The talented group leader, Jordon Dixon, is a native of Baton Rouge, Louisiana. He began playing saxophone at twelve-years-old. By the time he was a teen, you could see him sitting-in at the local jam sessions where folks realized and praised his talent and determination. When he turned nineteen, Dixon joined the U.S. Marines and for the next eleven years, he played his horn with their orchestra. Once honorably discharged, he pursued a music education degree at UDC. Jordon Dixon was heralded by the Washington City Paper as “the Best Tenor Saxophonist of 2016.” This album clearly supports that tribute. His lovely ballad, “We Kin” whose title I interpret two ways, an homage to family and a slang spelling of ‘we can,’ has got a lilting, afro-Cuban feel that stages a groove and platform for Jordon Dixon to explore and share his tenor talents. The title tune, “On!” is ethereal and unfolds in a magical way with arpeggio piano and a heavy brush of cymbals. Then it bebops into my room with a swagger, like a well-dressed, eye-candy, catching my undivided attention.
Dixon’s composer skills are evident and the players mesh and blend into each other comfortably, like old friends or family. I enjoy Burney’s big, beautiful bass skills on the double bass. When he opens the next tune, “Flame and Friction” he establishes the melody and sings it strongly before Dixon and his guest trumpeter, J.S. Williams, join him. This is a deep-seeded blues number that gives Williams an opportunity to strut his trumpet stuff with excellence and verve. This quickly becomes another one of my favorites on this remarkable recording. I do love me some good blues! All in all, I would have to say that every single cut on this album is worthy of several enjoyable listening experiences. Jordon Dixon is an important member of the Washington, D.C. jazz community and bound to make a prominent, soulful and hard-bop-mark on the worldwide jazz scene with this release.
Dee Dee McNeil / jazz journalist
April 27, 2019
A Review of "A conversation Among Friends"
As a member of “The Few, The Proud, The Marines,” Jordan Dixon of the University of the District of Columbia Jazz Ensemble has already made waves. With his debut CD “A Conversation among Friends,” the tenor saxophonist has served notice he is a musician and composer deserving wider recognition. Allyn Johnson, director of jazz studies at the University of the District of Columbia, is the pianist on the CD along with bandmates Steve Novosel, bass, Nasar Abadey, drums, and J.S. Williams, trumpet.
Highlights include Dixon’s bold, raw, bluesy tenor sax riffs on tunes like “Wayward Warrior,” an intriguing lilting jam spurred by Johnson’s rippling runs and Abadey’s splashing drum work. “Hospital Honors” rips and roars with Dixon’s spearing sax lines, and “What You’ve Done for Me (A Ballad for Mr. Gulley)” is in the best of the sax man’s ballad tradition.
Steve Monroe of
"Jordon Dixon brings a level of soul to his music that is rarely seen in a player his age. You can hear it in his sound and feel it as a listener.”
Jordy Freed of DL Media Music
“Dixon’s tenor saxophone has a low, dark-hued tone- like the sound of stout- but has a pungent center that’s revealed gradually in his solos, as he breaks down the structure of the song he’s improvising on.”
Michael J. West, Jazz Critic of the Washington City Paper