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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 a giant step in terms of being a convincing small band leader and composer. Two exceptional compositions offer high hopes for Bixler's future. "Mentiras" has a moody Spanish tinge and showcases moving solos by trumpeter Scott Wendholt (whose empathic interplay with Bixler is this album's highpoint) and guitarist John Hart. "Longing" lives up to its title with dramatic playing by all.
The overall mood of the album is dignified and solemn. The one attempt at humor, "Quack," supposedly what Lionel Hampton used to say when he was speechless, seems a self-conscious experiment with some hard blowing over a machine-tooled funky groove. Stay tuned for future efforts. Bixler is a rising talent with much left to express.
Track Listing: 1. I'll Get the Bags, 2. Mentiras, 3. How Did It Feel Like? 4. Longing, 5. Tenor Envy, 6. Quack, 8. Show Me The Justice.
Personnel: David Bixler, Scott Wendholt, John Hart, Ugonna Okegwo, Andy Watson
As a songwriter and vocalist, I love jazz for the experience of being in the center of intense creativity. It is the most potent form of music for keeping the artist and the audience in the 'now. Being in the moment is essential for humans, and we need help in learning how to do that. As a songwriter, I need the depth of musicality that jazz voicings can give my stories. My songs seem light and whimsical, but the message is not.
I met my main collaborator, Mark Fitzgibbon, at one of his gigs. I needed to do my first original album, and his playing was masterful, robust, and beautiful. At the time, I didn't realize how suited we were as a team. We're onto our 4rth album together.
My advice to new listeners is to listen to a really clear and simple version of a song so you can then hear what the musicians are doing and enjoy their creativity and musicality. Also, you have to see jazz live to appreciate it fully. You'll never feel it the same way listening to a CD or online. You need the vibration to go through your body to really get it!
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