David Bixler | BEATitude Review


David Bixler | BEATitude Review

by Darnell Jackson


David Bixler’s latest album, BEATitude, released under the Tiger Turn label on April 26, 2024, explores jazz infused with spiritual depth and emotional resilience. Featuring Jon Cowherd on piano, Ike Sturm on bass, and Rogerio Boccato on percussion, this album represents Bixler’s profound journey through joy, faith, and resilience. Produced by Peter Karl and mastered by Alessio Romano, BEATitude is a significant release for jazz aficionados and those seeking music with deeper emotional and spiritual themes.

Bixler, a saxophonist, composer, and educator, brings a wealth of experience to BEATitude. His illustrious career, including performances with Lionel Hampton, Toshiko Akiyoshi’s big bands, and a decade-long residency with the Chico O’Farrill Afro-Cuban Big Band at Birdland, informs this album. Additionally, his personal experiences, particularly the challenging period managing his son’s health issues, redefined his priorities and artistic vision, leading to an album that explores themes of faith, hope, and resilience.

BEATitude integrates various musical styles, including Afro-Cuban rhythms, gospel influences, and contemporaryDavid-Bixler-1 jazz. This synthesis creates a soundscape where traditional jazz idioms meet and merge with improvisational techniques from these various styles. Bixler’s compositions feature complex harmonies, syncopated rhythms, and dynamic interplay among the musicians, with each song delivering a rich and engaging listening experience.

The opening track, “A Power Deferred,” features an angular melody and strong melodic solos. Bixler’s solo showcases his mastery of the history of jazz combined with today’s improvisational languages, all presented with an expressive saxophone sound. Cowherd’s solo balances chordal figures with flowing single-line textures, while Sturm’s bold melodicism and groove-centric bass lines are highlighted as Boccato’s percussion propels the feel.

With a slow gospel swing groove, “Balm” evokes the warmth of a Sunday morning church service. The melody is well-written, and Bixler’s freewheeling solo builds with joy and intensity, which is complemented by Cowherd’s stylish accompaniment and bravado-laden solo playing. “Down/Up” is a medium waltz with a catchy melody and excellent performance by the ensemble. Boccato’s percussion colors create a rich texture throughout the moody and ethereal “I Spy.”

“Hide Seek Find” reflects the playful nature of its title. This piece features Boccato’s flexible rhythmic foundation, allowing the sax, bass, and piano to explore time-bending solos. The Latin-tinged groove adds an element of discovery and direct belief.

BEATitude provides a stimulating and varied listening session, with the spiritual depth of gospel music, the rhythmic complexity of Afro-Cuban jazz, and the improvisational freedom of modern jazz. The album resonates with themes of faith and resilience, mirroring David Bixler’s personal journey and his exploration of the human spirit’s enduring hope. The tone of BEATitude shifts from the introspective and plaintive to the joyful and celebratory, enhancing its thematic content.

The playing throughout BEATitude is meticulous; the interplay between saxophone, piano, bass, and percussion is complex yet harmonious, showcasing the musicians’ technical skill and creative synergy. Produced by Peter Karl and mastered by Alessio Romano, the album boasts exceptional production quality. The sound is clear and balanced, allowing the intricate details of each performance to shine through. The recording captures the dynamic range and emotional depth of the music beautifully.

David-Bixler-2BEATitude is a spiritually profound and technically impressive album that blends various musical styles to create a unique and engaging listening experience. David Bixler’s compositions explore themes of faith, hope, and resilience, making this album a standout addition to the contemporary jazz catalog.



Release Date: April 26, 2024

Label: Tiger Turn

About the author

Darnell Jackson

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