Alto saxophonist and composer David Bixler has recently embarked on an artistic reemergence with the release of two new recordings; In the Face of Chaos (2019) with Bixler, Boccato, Cowherd, and Sturm, and Blended Lineage (2020) with the Bixtet. A traumatic brain injury suffered by his youngest son necessitated a shift in Bixler’s priorities during the last decade—a period in which his family devoted much of its energy to the care of its youngest member. Because of this new lens, Bixler’s creative approach to composition, performance, and recording is repurposed and evident in his most recent output.
For the recording In the Face of Chaos, Bixler has assembled a band that understands the message of resilience and hope despite the odds that this music was intended to convey. Pianist Jon Cowherd, bassist Ike Sturm and percussionist Rogerio Boccato are sensitive interpreters of Bixler’s music. Their combined effort produces music that is challenging for the listener without being afraid to embrace beauty.
Blended Lineage, a four-movement work for nine musicians includes trumpeter Mike Rodriguez, pianist Jon Cowherd, bassist Luke Sellick, percussionist Fabio Rojas, and a string quartet comprised of violinists Judith Ingolfsson, Heather Martin Bixler, violist Josh Kail, and cellist Rubin Kodheli. This piece is the product of a commission to address the concept of modern-day tribes. Because the word “tribe” can appear divisive, Bixler framed the concept from the point of view that we all have groups or tribes to which we belong. The exercise of identifying these tribes is the first step in breaking down the barriers that separate them and finding where they intersect. In his piece, Bixler identifies four tribes of which he is a member: the human race, a Wisconsinite, a musician, and those who recognize the spiritual as a reality of life, and the music serves as a reflection of each of these four groups. The first piece, Origins is written for the beauty and diversity that exists through all of humanity. Motherland is an homage to his native Wisconsin. Trenches is dedicated to the musicians in NYC who choose musical rewards over monetary ones. My Soul Swoons Softly, the final piece, takes its title from James Joyce’s, The Dead, and is a reflection on the Divine existence beyond what can be seen and touched.