Tuesday, July 17, 2012

David Bixler The Nearest Exit May Be Inside Your Head Zoho 2012

Afro-Cuban jazz is the earliest form of Latin jazz. Dizzy Gillespie and Chano Pozo teamed up for a sound that would become more popular in the United States in its earliest state than in Cuba...Artists like David Bixler just make it better. David Bixler's latest offering is The Nearest Exit May Be Inside You Head has this true jazz quadrupal threat as performer, composer, arranger and educator at the very top of his game.

Bixler has assembled a quintet that may only be rivaled by one or two other working bands today and...they don't play Cubop. While I am totally digging the title what I dig even more is that as a composer, Bixler sidesteps convention. David Bixler plays and plays hard. The quintet is made up of first call guitarist John Hart who never fails to please. Scott Wendholdt may be the most over looked trumpet player working today but has mad skills and is not afraid to let it rip. Ugonna Okegwo is perhaps the foundation and what I mean specifically is you can have a ten million dollar home but if the foundation is crap what do you have? Andy Watson is not content to simply sit in the pocket as a human metronome. Watson is the pocket.

"Thinking Cap" is an eclectic tune with a subtle yet spatial separation between the instrumentation but yet manages a cohesive swing. As a life long Oakland A's fan the tune "Vida Blue" is an immediate attention grabber. Hard bop but with a cool sophistication much like the famed pitcher you receive flash and substance which is rare be it in athletics or music. Wendholdt excels here while the blues infusion of guitarist John Hart is pure flavor. The lyrical sense of purpose not to mention chemistry between Bixler and Okegwo is spot on. Controlled sonic fury. Passion that sidesteps the self indulgent. "The Nearest Exit May Be Inside Your Head" which is a more post modern swing tune is a wonderful hybrid between the form and function of the more traditional hard bop here in the United States combined with a delightful Latin groove that is pure flavor and texture from open to close. The key to the success of this tune if not the release in general is the open ended approach taken.

David Bixler opts for the slightly more sonic road less traveled approach avoiding the typical lyrical bop oriented lines for something a bit more abstract. Shifting meter, harmonic invention and captivating dynamics easily make this release one of the true sleepers of the year. If you are on a budget like most of us and could only purchase one more release this year - this would be one to give serious consideration!

Fire and Ice. The ability to work without a harmonic net and shift dynamics on the fly is a thing of rare beauty and executed with a passionate and organic flair rarely heard in jazz today.

5 Stars!

Tracks: Perfected Surfaces; Vanishing Point; Vida Blue; Three Dog Years; The Nearest Exit May Be Inside Your Head; Arise Intro; Arise; Thinking Cap; The Darkness Is My Closest Friend; Goat Check.

U.S. Release Date 08/14/12

Photo Credit: Mariangela Chatzistamatiou