Trumpet man pours a little bit of his soul into music

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, February 26, 2003

Donald King Dixon is playing real good for free.

With the afternoon traffic on Broad Street beating out the rhythm, he lifts his trumpet to the sky and pours out a little of his soul.

At his feet are the walking cane he uses to help him get around these days and a battered hat filled with coins tossed in by those passers-by whose hearts still have room for something as frivolous as music played for free on a cool late winter afternoon.

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Dixon’s take for this Tuesday afternoon amounts to small change, but he doesn’t mind. He plays because the music takes him places he cannot go without it.

When Dixon was &uot;up,&uot; he was a &uot;pretty good shade tree mechanic.&uot; Back when cars still had points and plugs and a carburetor and you didn’t need a computer just to set the idle.

He used to work on his own car, when he owned one.

Now he owns a trumpet that he plays for free.

In the 1960s he worked for the Gibson Guitar Company.

He learned to play the trumpet as a student at Blount High School in Pritcherd.

Over the years he’s played with any number of bands.

These days he’s got a more or less steady gig with Bobby Moore and the Rhythm Aces out of Montgomery.

It’s not the big time, but it keeps the wolf away from the door.

When the gigs get few and far between he plays for free, hoping to pick up a little spare change. Mostly, he plays jazz. But he’s not above blowing commercial when that meat begins to get a little scarce.

Dixon loves the trumpet, and he admires the style of Nat Adderly.

Spontaneously he plays a few bars of &uot;Mercy, Mercy, Mercy.&uot;

The trumpet is old and has a couple of air leaks that alter the sound, but he looks at it with unabashed affection when he is done.

Dixon closes his eyes and searches for just the right rhythm, just the right note. At last he finds what he is looking for, lifts his trumpet to his lips and begins.

The sounds of afternoon traffic fade into the background. The cool air grows suddenly warmer. The few scattered coins in the battered hat are transformed into treasure.

Donald King Dixon is playing real good for free.