My impromptu portrait of Peter was taken in a stolen moment when he was providing the sound for the JQJAZZ Festival at the UCB McIntyre Building on Sunday 22 May 2016. Peter has been the unsung hero of many a jazz gig I’ve attended in recent years, providing the sound for numerous bands and solo performers.
By Garry Corbett
Peter Maxwell Dixon arrived in Birmingham from Leicester, where he grew up, in 2004 to study Composition (Classical) at Birmingham Conservatoire. He studied under Joe Cutler, Lamberto Coccioli and Andrew Downs. “By studying composition I had the opportunity to immerse myself in music for four years”, he says, “I was also able to record many of my fellow students who were studying on the jazz course”.
He added, “like my father, my preferred role within music is one that enables others as opposed to being in the spotlight”. Peter’s father spent his professional life as a piano tuner, piano engineer and “all round piano expert”. Peter feels that his role as a sound engineer approaches music from the same standpoint. “My passion is to allow audience members to hear the music that is being performed as the musicians on stage intend it to be heard.” He adds, “Well, at least and possibly very selfishly, the way that I think it should sound to an audience member.”
It was during his time at the Conservatoire that Peter got himself properly involved with live sound and began to work engineering jazz gigs including Thursday nights at the Yardbird (then Bread & Roses) started by Simon Harris. He became involved with Birmingham Jazz in 2007. “Since then I’ve been given incredible opportunities,” he says, “through Birmingham Jazz, Jazzlines, The Edge (with Alison Vermee at the helm) and the Arena Theatre in Wolverhampton I’ve been able to engineer gigs by many incredible artists that have passed through the West Midlands.”
Peter recommends the following five-a-day:
J.S. Bach – The Well-Tempered Clavier, Books 1 and 2 (BWV 846–893). Enough said…
Conlon Nancarrow – Studies for Player Piano. A gem from my composition degree days which inspired a lot of music that I wrote.
My violin and alto. Though getting a little neglected at the moment…
John McSherry, Tyler Duncan and Michael Shimmin – The Olllam. My soundcheck CD for the last few years… something that I put through every PA system before mixing.
Birmingham. It has let me have it as my home and never stops surprising me with the number of amazing events that happen and originate here, and the all the inspiring people that are associated with the city.