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David Bixler

Saxophonist, composer, educator, husband, father of four, grandfather, blessed

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About Me

Alto saxophonist, composer, and educator David Bixler has recently embarked on an artistic reemergence with the release of three new recordings: In the Face of Chaos (2019) with Bixler, Boccato, Cowherd, and Sturm, Blended Lineage (2020) with the Bixtet, and Inside the Grief (2020) with trio incognito. A new recording featuring music inspired by the poetry of Langston Hughes is scheduled for later this year.

After moving to NYC thirty years ago, Bixler cut his teeth touring the world with the big bands of Lionel Hampton and Toshiko Akioshi. He later joined the Chico O’Farrill Afro-Cuban Big Band, with whom he played a decade-long residency of Sunday evenings at Birdland and won a LATIN GRAMMY for the recording, Final Night at Birdland.

However, 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. Because of this new lens, Bixler’s repurposed creative approach is evident in his most recent output.

For the recording In the Face of Chaos, Bixler assembled pianist Jon Cowherd, bassist Ike Sturm and percussionist Rogerio Boccato who are sensitive interpreters of Bixler’s music. Their combined effort produces music that is challenging for the listener without being afraid to embrace beauty. In All About Jazz, Dan Bilawsky writes “In the Face of Chaos marks a re-emergence, if not a complete artistic rebirth, for David Bixler. It serves as a true inspiration, drawing beauty from pain, and peace from personal struggle . . . In the face of chaos, with Bixler's knowing horn leading the way, wisdom and wonder win out.”

Blended Lineage, a four-movement work for nine musicians was included in Jay Miller’s Best of 2020 in The Patriot Ledger. The recording features trumpeter Mike Rodriguez, pianist Jon Cowherd, bassist Luke Sellick, percussionist Fabio Rojas, and a string quartet composed of violinists Judith Ingolfsson, Heather Martin Bixler, violist Josh Kail, and cellist Rubin Kodheli. Marco Cangiano, writing about Bixler’s playing in New York City Jazz Record states, “There is no rush, no instance on patterns, just the careful choice of the right note and an unusual openness to what the other musicians have to say.”

His latest recording, Inside the Grief, is a product of the trifecta of 2020: COVID-19, systemic racism, and the presidential election. Bixler went into the studio in the fall with bassist Gregg August and Venezuelan percussionist Fabio Rojas and created a set that captures the searing urgency of this time.

Bixler is the host of LINER NOTES with David Bixler, a podcast centered on conversations with jazz musicians. He also serves 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 the world.

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.

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