by Woodrow Wilkins, The Jazz Writer

It’s not often that the world of jazz welcomes a violinist. Although many have played the instrument in this genre, it still seems a rare event, relative to artists who play saxophone, trumpet, guitar, piano, drums or trombone. A few names that stand out over history are Stepane Grappelli, Jean-Luc Ponty, Ornette Coleman, Regina Carter and Mads Tolling. Scott Tixier joins that crowd, furthering his imprint with his second release, Cosmic Adventure (Sunnyside Records, 2016).

Performing with Tixier are Yvonnick Prene, harmonica; Glenn Zaleski, piano; Luques Curtis, bass; and Justin Brown, drums. Pedtrito Martinez adds congas on two tracks, and Chris Potter plays tenor saxophone on “Beam Me to Mars.”

Tixer and the gang come right out of the gate, sizzling. “Maze Walker” is a hard-charging piece, driven heavily by the congas. After a dynamic opening, Tixier takes the violin on a free-spirited jaunt, augmented superbly by the rhythm section. Prene steps up next, giving more to enjoy. The scene shifts a bit when Zaleski changes the mood, and Martinez stretches out for the next series. The song ends with the main theme repeated.

“Troublant Bolero” is an elegant take on the Django Reinhardt piece, with Tixier’s lead supplemented by Prene’s counter-melody. The rhythm trio is subtle but effective throughout. The song has the feel of a softer, slower tango. Solos are by Prene, Tixier and Zaleski.

The ensemble also puts its mark on the Erroll Garner classic, “Misty.” This arrangement is a slow dance anthem. Tixier changes things up a bit by plucking the strings during one passage of the theme.

Tixier composed six of the nine tracks on Cosmic Adventure. Prene wrote “Mr. Tix.”

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