David Bixler – The Langston Hughes Project Vol. 1 (ENG review)

Tiger Turn – Available January 12th 2024
Jazz moderne
David Bixler - The Langston Hughes Project Vol. 1

Here is a very elitist, fascinating album that oscillates between contemporary music and jazz. It’s the kind of album that, like a good play, nourishes your brain, questions you, and leaves a lasting mark. It’s also a very urban jazz that, for some strange reason, brought me back to reading Paul Auster’s New York Trilogy.
The use of string instruments staged in a classical manner balances against the rhythmic parts and David Bixler’s saxophone. The entire work ultimately presents five distinctive tableaus. David Bixler has undergone an artistic renaissance 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 the incognito trio. A new recording featuring music inspired by Langston Hughes’ poetry is set to be released on January 12, 2024.
This is music to be lived, more to be heard and seen on stage than to be listened to on CD because, indeed, you need to see and feel it to vibrate poetically in unison with the artists in a unique moment. The CD only makes sense afterward. Moreover, it’s a very written album that leaves no room for improvisation. Everything is finely crafted with passion, from composition to arrangements. It’s the kind of work that doesn’t leave you with the same impression after the second or third listen, as there is a touch of genius in these works.
After moving to New York thirty years ago, Bixler proved himself by touring worldwide with the big bands of Lionel Hampton and Toshiko Akioshi. He later joined the Chico O’Farrill Afro-Cuban Big Band, with which he played every Sunday night at Birdland for a decade and won a LATIN GRAMMY for the recording “Final Night at Birdland.” However, a traumatic brain injury suffered by his youngest son required a change in priorities for Bixler over the last decade, during which his family dedicated much of their energy to caring for their youngest member. Due to this new perspective, Bixler’s reimagined creative approach is evident in his most recent production.
Undoubtedly, there is a deep and sincere desire in Bixler to share his knowledge, as he hosts “LINER NOTES with David Bixler,” a podcast focused on conversations with jazz musicians. He is also the director of jazz studies at Bowling Green State University in Bowling Green, Ohio. As a Selmer and Vandoren artist, he is active as a clinician and performer worldwide.
Once again, an album for which, from the perspective of Bayou Blue Radio and Paris-Move, the title of “Essentials” is undoubtedly too small compared to the greatness of this work.

Thierry De Clemensat
USA correspondent – Paris-Move
Editor in chief Bayou Blue Radio, Bayou Blue News

PARIS-MOVE, December 17th 2023


Line up:
David Bixler | Alto Saxophone, Compositions
Mike Rodriguez| Trumpet
Jon Cowherd | Piano
Gregg August | Bass
Fabio Rojas | Percussion
Judith Ingolfsson | Violin
Heather Martin Bixler | Violin
Arthur Dibble | Viola
Rubin Kodheli | Cello
Elainie Lillios | Electroacoustics

Track Listing:
The Langston Hughes Project