Freddie Bryant, guitar
Kenny Davis, bass
Akua Dixon, cello
May 7, 2016
Clermont Vineyards & Winery
Akua Dixon’s command of her instrument and audience is indisputable—but where she really shines? It’s her compositions and arrangements. With panoramic views of grapevines, the Hudson River, and the Catskill Mountains, Dixon treated the intimate but packed room at Clermont Vineyards and Winery to original compositions written over the last 40+ years. She included pieces from of her 2012 album,Moving On, her NEA-backed project Afrika! Afrika!, and her upcoming opera based on the story of Marie Laveau, voodoo queen of 19th-century New Orleans.
Dixon is a classically-trained cellist who, over time, immersed herself in jazz and spiritual music, and unlocked the secrets of improvisation. She’s performed and recorded with the likes of Regina Carter, Don Cherry, Dizzy Gillespie, Abbey Lincoln, Carmen McRae, and Archie Shepp. Through experimentation with these artists, she contributed to the rise of string instruments in jazz music.
For her third number, Dixon performed an incredibly nuanced introduction to Afrika! Afrika!, which showcased her unique and soulful approach to the cello. Her warm tone filled the room and it was clear that her fellow musicians were excited by her energy.
Joining Dixon was Freddie Bryant on guitar and Kenny Davis on bass, both brilliant accompanists and soloists. Bryant’s dexterous solos demonstrated his impressive chops, yet he showed more restraint and attention to clarity of ideas than others with similar talent often do. Kenny Davis had the difficult task of keeping the ensemble on time and on track, steering everyone through Dixon’s complex poly-metered compositions. Anyone familiar with Davis’s playing wouldn’t be surprised by the ease with which he handled this, showing that a band doesn’t need drums to inspire the audience to nod along.
Now in its second year, Jazz in GTown has continued to showcase outstanding talent thanks to its sponsors, the dedication of the local community, and the series’s director, Cheryl Jean. The series will continue in the summer.
This event was made possible (in part) with public funds provided by the New York State Council on the Arts Decentralization Program, administered through the Community Arts Grants Program at Greene County Council on the Arts.