Violinist Scott Tixier is like a young fledgling poised to take off. This is a wondrous sight: arms (the wings) painfully outstretched, neck and, indeed, the whole body arched and on tip-toes, his bow swinging wildly as he flies off into the azure unknown. He is awkward at first; then sure that he will soar and swoop and soar again, he is off on a spectacular and fanciful flight, following in the updraft of those who flew before him: Don "Sugar Cane" Harris
, Jean-Luc Ponty
, Didier Lockwood
; even Mark Feldman
... and soon the mighty eagle himself, Billy Bang
. The coordination of bow in its up and down strokesand the arched fingers that creep and fly on the neck of his beautiful instrument carve out one spectacular melody after another, and the one where he and vocalist Emilie Weibel trade fabulous vocal gymnastics and melodic flights is so ingenious that it sears the ear.
Another surprising aspect of Tixier's playing is that he is unafraid to play in the lower register. Here, his playing is dark sometimes even menacinghe might just as well be a maestro of the violaand this is especially noteworthy on "Elephant Rose." The melody, as a whole, has an air of mystery to it, delivered largely in legato mode, with Tixier and pianist Jesse Elder
playing in two-way counterpoint, exchanging broad glissandos as they whip up a stormthe greased lightning that creates the electrical charge that sustains the piece. This shows a young energetic side to a violinist (and pianist) unafraid to taunt his musical colleagues by leading them on a path to magic and mystery.
Speaking of the enigmatic, "String Theory" also includes the bass violinthe acoustic bassand as Tixier delves deeper into the lower register entwined with guitarist douglas bradford
, he entices bassist Massimo Biolcati
to join in the noir festivities. Then, as all follow the violinistbeguiled it seems, into a bottomless vortexTixier, deceiving everyone, escapes by soaring higher and higher and right out of the harmonic vortex, finally drawing everyone else out with him with stupendous beauty.
By now, the fledgling is flying on sure wings, soaring on thermalshot melodies that swirl on diaphanous sheets of airswooping downwards, sliding on death-defying missions to recover harmonically suicidal events like dramatic rescues ("Miss Katsu" being a case in point), the young violinist showing old masters his version of their masterly touch.
Tixier is on the verge of discovering his own voice. The magic is already there and he has exceeded most expectations. By the time he reaches the end of this program he has landed on the edge of a higher outcrop, all set to take off again. This time he will, for sure, far exceed what is expected of him because Tixier is a musician of unbridled talent.