the good John (with whose excellent band i will share the outdoor "stage" this Sunday) has asked for a little Dickerson tune-age to go along with the interview below, and i am happy to oblige. here is...
Infinite Love (take 2)
this is from Dickerson's *solo vibes* disc, "Shades of Love," recorded in November of '77. this is an alternate take that wasn't on the original LP, which, incredibly was part of Steeplechase's direct-to-disc series, meaning that--please correct me if i'm wrong--these tracks were recorded in one shot, w/ no do-overs. like how they used to etch directly into wax when recording on vinyl.
anyway, this is one of my very favorite records, just one of the most unique things you'll ever hear. this track in particular really sums up the idiosyncrasies of Dickerson's sound. check out how the vibrato is extremely heavy near the beginning; he just lets the notes build up and drone on, almost in a kind of New Agey way. but then listen to how naked things get around 2:20...
the vibrato is almost totally gone, or at least very tightly controlled. Dickerson's speeding around the keys doing these incredibly dexterous runs: just really quiet, yet acrobatic shit. and then he'll echo it w/ this three-note motif played with a ton of vibrato. and then back to the speedy, echoless plinking. i love how the music just surrounds you and then he cuts the vibrato and suddenly you're in this hushed situation of very minute details. such strange juxtapositions.
there's something about the vibes... what a strange instrument. so few vibists in jazz really experimented with the instrument's fundamental weirdness in this way. the way he goes back and forth is like if you were playing air hockey and experimenting with turning the current on and off, toggling between a very cushiony sound and one that's totally precise. i just love the glassiness of the vibratoless passages.
when Walt and i discussed whether his concept was specific to the vibes, he said that it was, but that "no precendent [had] been set" in the areas he's interested in. very true that. gotta say, i'm not hugely up on vibists other than Dickerson and Bobby Hutcherson. as for younger players, i've loved Matt Moran whenever i've heard him. i'm curious to know whether Gunter Hampel and Karl Berger are worth checking out. anyway, Walt will always be my man. part two of the interview is soon to come.