On Sunday, April 13, at 5:00 p.m., this Spring’s run of great shows at Bungalow Jazz continues with a concert by the NYC-based David Bixler Quartet. Saxophonist Bixler is probably best known as a long-time member of pianist Arturo O’Farrill’s group, but he has also recorded five albums as a leader and has played and recorded with numerous prestigious artists across jazz. In addition to his performances, he remains committed to education as the Director of Jazz Studies at Bowling Green State University in Bowling Green, Ohio. He will be joined onstage by guitarist John Hart, bassist Ugonna Okegwo, and drummer Andy Watson.
A full rundown of the band’s extensive resumes follows:
David Bixler, saxophone
“David Bixler is an artist who manages to take much of the best of the jazz tradition and push it in new directions—push, but never shove. He is original, but his originality is not what I would call radical. He works within the tradition. He is not looking to destroy it. The Nearest Exit May Be Inside Your Head is an album filled with inventive ideas and exciting artistry. Most importantly, it is filled with music you’ll want to hear and hear again.” Jack Goodstein
Saxophonist, composer, and educator David Bixler continues to establish himself as a multifaceted artist. David has performed and toured the world with the orchestras of Chico O’Farrill, Lionel Hampton, Toshiko Akiyoshi, and Duke Ellington, among others. His collaboration with pianist Arturo O’Farrill has resulted in many performances and tours, in addition to several recordings, including the GRAMMY nominated 40 Acres and a Mule.
The Nearest Exit May Be Inside Your Head is Bixler’s fifth recording as a leader. In reviewing the recording for All About Jazz, Dan Bilawasky writes, “Bixler has garnered plenty of attention for his contributions to O’Farrill’s music over the years, but this album makes it clear that it’s time to give him his due for his own winning work.”
David is the Director of Jazz Studies at Bowling Green State University in Bowling Green, Ohio. As both a Selmer and Vandoren Artist he is active as a clinician throughout the world.
John Hart, guitar
John Hart is simply one of the most sought after and prolific guitarists on the jazz scene today. A New York fixture for 29 years, John has distinguished himself not only as a band leader with 8 CDs including releases on prestigious labels Blue Note and Concord but also as first call sideman to the stars. His resume includes associations with jazz greats from earlier generations and cutting edge contemporary artists. He may be best known for a 16 year tenure with organist Jack McDuff, a gig which was a proving ground for many of the great jazz guitar innovators. JazzTimes said of John, “An alum of the Brother Jack McDuff University of Jazz Guitar, John Hart can burn his way through blues changes on a level that’s right up there with fellow graduates George Benson and Pat Martino”. John has also worked with Jimmy Smith and can be seen on YouTube performing with him at the Mt. Fuji Jazz Festival in 1990. Other associations include Lou Donaldson, James Moody, Jon Hendricks and more recently Dr. Lonnie Smith.
Ugonna Okegwo, bass
Ugonna Okegwo is one of the most distinctive and sought-after jazz bassists in the world. Critics across the globe have praised him for his rich tone, supple sense of swing, stylistic range and inventiveness. These qualities have not only earned him a place on the bandstand with jazz legends as diverse as Clark Terry, Benny Golson, Pharoah Sanders and Joseph Jarman – they have established him as one of the leading lights of a younger generation redefining jazz for the new century.
“He is very individualistic, both in his soloing and accompanying. I love the way he plays in the ensemble,” says Tom Harrell, with whom Okegwo has worked for several years. “Ugonna does some really creative things that I haven’t heard anyone do with his articulation and timing.”
Born March 15, 1962 in London to a German mother and Nigerian father, Okegwo was raised in Germany and grew up listening to African-American music – James Brown, Jimi Hendrix, Miles Davis, Ornette Coleman, and, eventually, the great Charles Mingus.
Andy Watson, drums
Andy Watson has been a fixture on the New York jazz scene for over two decades. He has performed and recorded with an impressive list of artists, including: Toshiko Akiyoshi, Bill Frisell, Benny Golson, Jim Hall, Tom Harrell, Jon Hendricks, Woody Herman, Joe Lovano, Wynton Marsalis, Marian McPartland, James Moody, Mike Stern, and Lew Tabackin.
As a member of Jim Hall’s trio, Andy played on the critically acclaimed recording Dialogues. All About Jazz magazine called his performance on David Bixler’s Call It A Good Deal “one of the top ten for 2006”. Other notable recordings include Jon Hendricks’ Boppin’ at the Blue Note, Toshiko Akiyoshi’s Hiroshima: Rising from the Abyss, Jim Hall’s Downbeat Critic’s Choice and the Telarc compilations Jazz: Live from New York and Triple Play: Live From the Blue Note.
Watson has toured extensively throughout the United States, Europe, Japan, and South America, appearing at many of the major festivals: Monterey Jazz Festival, Ravinia, JVC New York, Playboy Jazz Fest, JVC Saratoga, Zurich Jazz Festival, and the Vienna Jazz Festival.