The Edge of Chaos

Dixon Nacey


With this album guitarist Dixon Nacey has produced a knockout debut as bandleader. Seven superb compositions beautifully played by a stellar line-up, The Edge of Chaos is a stunner.

“The edge of chaos is the constantly shifting battle zone between stagnation and anarchy, the one place where a complex system can be spontaneous, adaptive and alive." — Mitchell Waldrop

Dixon Nacey (guitar)
Roger Manins (saxophone)
Kevin Field (piano)
Olivier Holland (bass)
Andy Keegan (drums)
Jonathan Leung and Chelsea Prastiti (vocals on Taupo)

Produced by Dixon Nacey
Recorded by John Kim at the Kenneth Myers
Centre, Auckland, March 23-24, 2019
Mixed by Steve Garden and Dixon Nacey
Design by UnkleFranc
Printing by Studio Q

All compositions © Dixon Nacey, 2019

Dixon Nacey is sponsored by The Rockshop (NZ), and plays Godin guitars and Supro Amps

Released: 16 October 2019
Catalogue: RAT-J-1046

Dixon 1.jpg

Auckland-based guitarist Dixon Nacey has, in his 27-year career in music, worked with some of the finest local and international musicians across a wide range of genres. He is in high demand as a session musician and sideman, and has been the Musical Director for the Coca-Cola Christmas in

the Park show since 2016. He is also a respected and sought-after teacher, having held posts with the University of Auckland (2003–2019), Excel SOPA (1999–2006, 2012–2014), Ara/CPIT (2009–2011, 2016), and Massey (Auckland, 2007–2013), and hosting numerous workshops and clinics.

He has recorded three albums with Samsom Nacey Haines. The first, Open to Suggestions (2008), was a finalist in the 2009 NZ Music Awards. Oxide (2011) and Cro

The creation of this album follows a period in which I studied compositional techniques used by contemporary jazz musicians whose ‘modern sound’ was often comprised of both complex rhythmic and harmonic content. I noted that despite the difficult musical terrain, the artists I analysed performed with lyrical grace and tastefulness. I wanted to develop this aspect of my own playing; to challenge myself in complex musical situations whilst retaining an overall sense of musicality.

I began a Masters in Music research and composition project, for which I hoped the final output would be a collection of songs that reflected the study, but was not bound to or restricted by it — tunes where the players could soar and the music was vital, rather than being bogged down in self-examination. There were many humbling lessons and revelations that came in varying forms over the course of my study.

One such lesson was around the matter of musical control. Being committed to the sonic picture of the scores realised in early demo’s (via the enchanting mechanism of Sibelius playback with live guitar) was a danger. Trapped in that sound, I would struggle at rehearsals to let the natural personalities of the great performers around me expand and progress. I heard the music one way.

Matters of tempo, precise playback of rhythmic parts and drum patterns, sax ranges, letting go of the scores (and predetermined ideas) became part of a steep learning curve. Trust was paramount. Chaos was the opposite of control in this respect. I realised I must prepare for the music to be chaotic, and to take my part in that chaos.

Another epiphany came as I took solos on tunes early in the recording session. All the personal practice of the harmonic and rhythmic materials had, up to that point, been limited in application to playing along with backing tracks. While useful for learning the material, it was a vastly different context to playing with skilled musicians who dug in and pushed back. It became clear that the patterns and licks I had practiced were less meaningful than another crucial preparation — being ready for the music beyond the written parts, so that I might openly engage in listening and interacting with the great musicians around me.

When I was prepared, I found myself wandering into a landscape that was far more compelling — rather than scales and chord voicings, I felt drawn to explore more pressing considerations, such as texture, dynamics and energy. Ollie, Kevin, Roger and Andy are great voyagers in this respect. They each brought their ferocious talent to my tunes and that in turn brought the music to life, pushing me to my outer musical limits. ‘The Edge of Chaos’ represents the area near, or beyond those limits.

Dixon Nacey