New CD captures essence of Bixler


Moving to Bowling Green hasn’t kept jazz saxophonist and composer David Bixler from releasing another CD
with his New York-based quintet.
Bixler’s "The Nearest Exit May Be Inside Your Head," recently released on the Zoho label. It
features the same group of collaborators he’s been working with for over a decade. The quintet includes
Bixler, alto saxophone, John Hart guitar, Andy Watson, drums, Scott Wendholt, trumpet, and Ugonna
Okegwo, bass.
That familiarity helps the ensemble remain cohesive, even if Bixler isn’t in town.
This summer Bixler was back in the city six times, including a trip back for his son’s wedding. Of
course, given the musicians are spread from one end of the metro area to the other, they’d be unlikely
to see each other much.
Still the roots of the quintet go back to rehearsals in the Hart’s basement. The musicians worked
corroboratively. Helping shape the compositions. "You have to have a lot of trust to allow someone
to have access to something so personal as that," Bixler said.
The process of putting together the session has been "slower," he said. The quintet will play a
CD release party at Birdland, the famed Manhattan night club on Oct. 18. The group will appear before
then at Montclair State University. "That will suffice as rehearsal."
Bixler said like any artist he tries "to have something that’s identifiably yours."
He feels, for good or ill, he’s achieved that, and is pleased when someone tells him they heard a tune on
the radio and were able to identify it as his.
He finds it hard to pinpoint what that "Bixolodian" element, to use a term coined by his friend
and colleague Arturo O’Farrill in the liner notes for the new release.
To be sure, Bixler has his own bright and metallic tone on alto saxophone, well gauged to execute the
angles of his particular melodic architecture.
O’Farrill called him "someone who balances the idea of coming from somewhere and going in new
One of those directions is his interest in classical composition. Some pieces such as "The Darkness
Is My Closest Friend" are almost chamber jazz with the thematic written lines playing a more
prominent role in the performance’s development.
The compositions, all Bixler originals, on "The Nearest Exit" are from a few years ago, just as
Bixler was making the transition from a live as a New York City freelancer to being a music professor at
Bowling Green State University. He has more material in the works including pieces he premiered last
spring on a faculty recital that use four additional woodwinds.
Now in his fifth year at BGSU, and second as an Ohio resident, he pleased with the move.
He enjoys teaching, Bixler said. "One of the things that this has enabled me to do is eliminate all
the things I was trying to do in order to survive when I was in New York that enabled me to do the music
I wanted to do.
One of those was subbing on Broadway shows. "I traded my clarinet for meetings," he said.
Bixler jams weekly on Wednesday with his jazz colleagues from BGSU. "At this point in my life I’d
rather play at One 49 North and take a pass on any gig I had to put a tux on for that pays four times

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