American trumpeter Bill Dixon began composing his moody, darkly abstract music in the mid-60s, fusing free jazz with modernist chamber music elements touching on Stravinsky and Schoenberg. Envoi is the last of these works, recorded at the FIMAV festival in Victoriaville just three weeks prior to Dixon’s death in June 2010. Dixon’s failing health required that his unaccompanied trumpet solo with echoing multiplex be played on tape during the concert, but nothing feels unfulfilled or unrealized in this final musical testament. Dixon reassembled the nonet previously employed on Tapestries for Small Orchestra (2009), contrasting five trumpets (or cornets or bugles) with looming underlying colours in the bass register, provided by cello, string bass, contrabass clarinet and percussion. The music initially suggests the cutting cry of Miles Davis’s Sketches of Spain but moves subtly and constantly through a series of phases that further exploit the sombre side of trumpet sonority: quavering upper registers set against looming dissonant chords; pained and haunting spears of sound; and massed mutes suggesting the disturbing chatter of voices just below the threshold of comprehension. By the final explosion of collective improvisation, it’s telling how much distance has been covered in Envoi’s two long movements.