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.
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.
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