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David Bixler: The Nearest Exit May Be Inside Your Head

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Saxophonist David Bixler's ties to pianist Arturo O'Farrill have had positive and negative consequences. The positives are a raised profile, a fairly steady gig for twelve years and counting, and the opportunity to paint atop brilliantly arranged Latin platforms of varying shapes, colors and sizes for audiences around the world. So, one might wonder, what could possibly be negative about this connection, and the answer comes with one simple word: pigeonholing. This saxophonist isn't bound to a single style, but O'Farrill fans may not know it or care. Bixler is a musician with a broad background that ...

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Take Five With David Bixler

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Meet David Bixler: Alto saxophonist, composer, and educator David Bixler has been steadily garnering attention for his unique playing and writing. Since moving to New York City from his native Wisconsin, David has performed and toured with the orchestras of Lionel Hampton, Toshiko Akiyoshi, and Duke Ellington. In 2000 he joined the Chico O'Farrill Afro Cuban Jazz Orchestra which was the beginning of several musical collaborations with GRAMMY award winning pianist Arturo O'Farrill. In 2008 he was invited to join the pianist's Risa Negra sextet. On the band's 2009 ZOHO release, Risa Negra, David is ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

David Bixler and Arturo O'Farrill: The Auction Project

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Cuba and Ireland are worlds apart in virtually every way, but the universal language of music--is often culture-blind. The Auction Project was born out of a marriage between two longtime musical partners--saxophonist David Bixler and pianist Arturo O'Farrill--and a marriage between, well...two married people. Bixler and O'Farrill, longtime band mates and label mates on Zoho Music, came together in 2006 to play a fundraiser at Bixler's daughter's school. Around the same time, Bixler's wife, Juilliard trained violinist Heather Martin Bixler, was exploring traditional Irish fiddle music. With Afro-Cuban sounds and Celtic creations being practiced under one roof--literally--Bixler gave birth to ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

David Bixler and Arturo O'Farrill: The Auction Project

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Altoist and composer David Bixler leads The Auction Project, with Grammy-winning pianist Arturo O'Farrill, who has described this album as being “very much about colliding cultures." This may slightly overstate things but the album does represent what is, for jazz, a rather unusual meeting of cultures. Half of The Auction Project is devoted to Bixler's compositions, while the other half features tunes from the folk canon of the British Isles--the island of Ireland in particular. The key musician on these tunes is violinist Heather Martin Bixler; her playing is technically skilful and, while she does not have ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

David Bixler and Arturo O'Farrill: The Auction Project

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Stylistically, The Auction Project is slightly out-of-focus. It is ostensibly the meeting of Arturo O'Farrill's Irish-Latin roots at the corner of David Bixler and Heather Martin Bixler. However, there is much to endorse the music made here, not the least of which is the presence of the two Chico O'Farrill big band alumni. Bixler's “Heptagonesque" is the successful culmination of this Hispano-Celtic experiment, with its curious Middle Eastern flavor. Is it the curry? No, it's the violin. Marked by a serpentine head introducing the piece, by the time O'Farrill begins soloing the tune has devolved into some ...

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Take Five With David Bixler

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Meet David Bixler: Alto saxophonist David Bixler has been active on the New York jazz scene for the last ten years. As lead alto with the Chico O'Farrill Afro-Cuban Jazz Orchestra, he has toured the US, Europe, and Central America in addition to performing each Sunday evening at Birdland in New York City. His third release as leader, Call It A Good Deal, was released July 2006 on Zoho Music and received 3 1/2 stars in Down Beat. Increasingly active as a composer, his Quintet for Alto Saxophone and String Quartet debuted this past January with the South Dakota Symphony. ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

David Bixler: Call It A Good Deal

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David Bixler, who is first alto in the Arturo O'Farrill Afro Cuban Jazz Orchestra, fronts his own quintet here to deliver a session that is long on compositional dimensionality and rhythmic backbone. Bixler pairs with Scott Wendholt's razor-sharp trumpet to slice angles through these intricate pieces, and he's not afraid to take a chance with refreshingly unfettered writing. By combining with guitarist John Hart's oblique leads and dexterous chordal cleverness, they make Call It A Good Deal shine like a brilliantly cut diamond. The haltingly quirky yet powerfully memorable signature of the odd-metered “Aiding and Abetting makes ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

David Bixler: Call It A Good Deal

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Call It A Good Deal is a plainspoken name for an elusive and thoroughly engrossing recording. Alto saxophonist and composer David Bixler's third outing as a leader transcends familiar categories. Bixler writes gorgeous, expansive melodies that seldom linger in one place for very long. His compositions favor odd time signatures, as well as changes in meter and tempo. He frequently augments asymmetrical themes with variations and secondary motifs which move in and around the improvisations. Never sounding academic or fragmented, the consistently changing landscape of Bixler's music traverses long distances in small, palatable increments, and there's a distant air of ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

David Bixler: Call It A Good Deal

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David Bixler, a Racine, Wisconsin native who completed his education at Indiana University, has maintained an active schedule. During his early years in New York, Bixler was chosen as the lead altoist with the Lionel Hampton Orchestra for performances in Europe and the United States. During the 1990s, Bixler was a musician and educator in Barcelona, Spain, where he was much in-demand as both a performer and teacher. Since his return to New York eleven years ago, Bixler has established himself as a freelance musician. During this period, he also toured with the Toshiko Akiyoshi and Duke Ellington Orchestras--and since ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

David Bixler: Call It A Good Deal

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With his third album as a bandleader, David Bixler, a veteran New York sideman, consolidates his growing reputation as an accomplished, urbane band leader and composer in his own right. Since 1999, Bixler has been the lead alto saxophonist of the Chico O'Farrill Afro-Cuban Jazz Orchestra. (However, little of this element is detectable here.)

After O'Farrill passed away in 2001, his son Arturo took the reins as musical director of the orchestra. In the liner notes for Call It A Good Deal, the younger O'Farrill uses a nice bit of visual imagery to describe Bixler's music, comparing it to an ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

David Bixler: Show Me The Justice

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While not exactly breaking new ground, alto saxophonist David Bixler delivers a set of seven clever original compositions on Show Me The Justice. With a front line including guitarist John Hart and trumpeter Scott Wendholt, and a rhythm section including bassist Ugonna Okegwo and drummer Andy Watson, Bixler examines the nooks and crannies of the post-bop tradition with a style that is spare and economical.

There is, in fact, a certain sense of directness about the whole recording. The New Yorker cut his teeth in larger groups with Lionel Hampton and Toshiko Akioshi, to name two, and while he has ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

David Bixler: Show Me The Justice

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There is more than a hint of the late '60s Blue Note sound to this album, resembling in atmosphere something like an obscure Joe Henderson session. Alto saxophonist David Bixler doesn't sound self-consciously retro, make no mistake about that. He has an individual sound and lots of complex ideas, but his quintet, as well as his seven original compositions, sounds strongly colored by that label's '60s bop proclivities. Bixler has made a name for himself as a versatile saxophonist with the Chico O'Farrell and Toshiko Akiyoshi bands, but I think he still awaits the moment of taking ...



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