The Akua Dixon Trio
May 7, 2016 at 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.
Our fourth concert, The Akua Dixon Trio, is scheduled for Saturday, May 7th at 7 p.m. at the Clermont Vineyards and Winery in Germantown. Akua, an extraordinary cellist and composer, will be accompanied by guitarist Freddie Bryant and bassist Kenny Davis.
Dixon has performed with Duke Ellington, Lionel Hampton, Max Roach, Dizzie Gillespie, B.B. King, Archie Shepp, James Brown, Carmen McRae, Betty Carter, Don Cherry, Steve Turre, Rahsaan Roland Kirk and numerous other top jazz musicians.
She is the leader of Quartette Indigo and was the founding cellist in the Uptown String Quartet. Akua supplied the string arrangements for the five-Grammy award winning CD. “The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill” and Aretha Franklin’s Grammy-nominated “A Rose is Still a Rose.” She has conducted for Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater. Akua has received several awards from The National Endowment for the Arts and the Rockefeller Foundation (The Opera of Marie Laveau). She has lectured at the Smithsonian and is the 1998 recipient of the African American Classical Music Award.
‘It amazes me,” cellist Akua Dixon declares, “that people are amazed when they hear about a jazz musician who plays classical music. You don’t get to play with the level of technique and expertise of Art Tatum and Oscar Peterson if you didn’t study the piano. And study, in this country means classical music.’
Clermont Vineyards and Winery, owned and operated by Tony Trigo, is located across from the entrance to Clermont State Park on Route 9G, at 241 County Rte 6, Germantown/ Clermont. You can see the red barn up on the hill.
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.