Friday, February 20, 2015

Akua Dixon

Akua Dixon, first-call cellist for jazz-oriented dates which need a string section, steps out on her own with a magnetic, vibrant disk simply entitled Akua Dixon (Akua's Music, self released). Akua of course is on cello throughout. She has assembled a state-of-the-art string ensemble including such luminaries as John Blake, Jr. and Regina Carter, violins, viola, cello and bass. And drums for one cut. She herself adeptly arranges the music--standards, Mingus, a Piazzolla tango, etc.

The arrangements are effective and languidly jazzed in a beautiful way. There are very good soloists in Akua, Regina, etc. but what especially stands out are the arrangements, which grab you with their strong jazz voicings and artful nuances. The solos add much, but are the finishing touches to an exceptional mix of string sonarities.

Mingus's "Haitian Fight Song" is a good place to start. The fugal theme sounds great with the strings here and that's a first sample of the good things to come. It is perhaps not easy to make "Moon River" sound fresh, but you rehear the beauty in a surprising way with the strings out front in Akua's original and effective arrangement. And the solos!

If you are like I am, if you revel in the possibilities of what string ensembles bring to the music and crave more of it, here is the place to be.

Yes! More!

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