Most jazz fans probably know saxophonist David Bixler from his many years in the first alto chair of Arturo O'Farrill's Afro-Cuban ensembles. O'Farrill describes him as "a brilliant mind, an outsider looking in at all the restraints of what is normally called jazz, but like true observers not bound by any of them. His is an original voice-a beautiful and reflective antidote to fad oriented jazz." Bixler deserves much wider recognition for his own recordings over the past decade. For his fifth release as leader, "The Nearest Exit May Be Inside Your Head", he's accompanied by trumpeter Scott Wendholdt, guitarist John Hart, bassist Ugonna Ukegwo and drummer Andy Watson on a program of ten originals.
Los Angeles-based composer and pianist Kait Dunton, who's been studying under pianist Alan Pasqua and composer Vince Mendoza, delivers her second disc of original music, "Mountain Suite." What started as a few measures of music composed in the Canadian Rockies became a full suite of music brought to life by master interpreters Peter Erskine on drums, Bob Mintzer on tenor sax, John Daversa on trumpet and Darek Oles on bass. Using jazz as a springboard into creative realms of her own imagining, Dunton both refers to and defies idiomatic expectations of the genre. It swings, but it also slips into more subtle, shadowy places.
Also this week, saxophonist Houston Person collaborates with legendary pianist Cedar Walton on "Naturally"; the South Florida Jazz Orchestra under the direction of Chuck Bergeron calls upon Brian Lynch, Wayne Bergeron, Greg Gisbert, Jason Carder and Alex Norris for a "Trumpet Summit"; and pianist, composer and arranger Jeff Holmes offers up his debut small group recording, "Of One's Own."