Saxophonist, composer, educator, husband, father of four, grandfather, blessed
Alto saxophonist and composer David Bixler has recently embarked on an artistic reemergence with the
release of two new recordings; In the Face of Chaos (2019) with Bixler, Boccato, Cowherd, and Sturm,
and Blended Lineage (2020) with the Bixtet. A traumatic brain injury suffered by his youngest son
necessitated a shift in Bixler’s priorities during the last decade—a period in which his family devoted
much of its energy to the care of its youngest member. Through this new lens, Bixler’s repurposed
creative approach is evident in his most recent output.
For the recording In the Face of Chaos, Bixler has assembled a band that understands the message of
resilience and hope despite the odds that this music was intended to convey. Pianist Jon Cowherd,
bassist Ike Sturm and percussionist Rogerio Boccato are sensitive interpreters of Bixler’s music. Their
combined effort produces music that is challenging for the listener without being afraid to embrace its
Blended Lineage, a four-movement work for nine musicians includes trumpeter Mike Rodriguez, pianist
Jon Cowherd, bassist Luke Sellick, percussionist Fabio Rojas, and a string quartet comprised of violinists
Judith Ingolfsson, Heather Martin Bixler, violist Josh Kail, and cellist Rubin Kodheli. This piece is the
product of a commission addressing the concept of modern-day tribes. Because the word “tribe” can
appear divisive, Bixler framed the concept from the point of view that we all have groups or tribes to
which we belong. The exercise of identifying these tribes is the first step in breaking down the barriers
that separate them and finding where they intersect.
In his piece, Bixler identifies four tribes of which he is a member: the human race, a Wisconsinite, a
musician, and those who recognize the spiritual as a reality of life, and the music serves as a reflection
of each of these four groups. The first piece, Origins is written for the beauty and diversity that exists
through all of humanity. Motherland is an homage to his native Wisconsin. Trenches is dedicated to the
musicians in NYC who choose musical rewards over monetary ones. My Soul Swoons Softly, the final
piece, takes its title from James Joyce’s, The Dead, and is a reflection on the Divine existence beyond
what can be seen and touched.
Bixler is the host of Liner Notes with David Bixler, a new podcast centered on conversations with jazz
musicians as well as serving as Director of Jazz Studies at Bowling Green State University in Bowling
Green, Ohio. As both a Selmer and Vandoren Artist he is active as a clinician and performer throughout
Bixler and his family reside in New York City.
My Jazz Story
I love jazz because it is the sound of hope. The creativity and improvisation of this music present a counter-narrative to the world we live in. In this current time of
double pandemic, I have been getting together with musicians in Central Park and Prospect Park to play as well as playing sessions in backyards in Jersey and
Westchester. There are some people that pass by, but no real audience and no money (not that that is any different), but it is exciting to realize that musicians are
finding a way to make music happen right now. The desire of this community to create music will not be suppressed.