Auction Project | Slink Review
by Stamish Malcuss
Auction Project is an adventurous quintet that plays a hybrid of jazz, Celtic and Afro-Cuban music, featuring Arturo O’Farrill, piano; David Bixler, saxophone; Heather Martin Bixler, violin; Carlo De Rosa, bass; and Vince Cherico, drums. The Auction Project has a decisive Celtic element lead by Bixler, alongside acclaimed pianist and four-time Grammy winner O’Farrill. O’Farrill is both creative and champions music that embraces hybridity and open cultural exchange. This is a specialized group that is the true definition of world music.
“Heron’s Egg” has a Celtic melody performed by Martin Bixler in a jig manner. The tune starts with Martin Bixler playing the melody solo. Her violin tone is warm and lyrical as she plays with passion and authentic Celtic accents and demeanor. The band enters with a feel that is both supportive of the Celtic sounds but also has elements of Afro-Cuban rhythms. The counterpoint between the violin and the rhythm section is fascinating. Bixler joins on saxophone before O’Farrill takes a rhythmically adventurous piano solo with rolling arpeggios and exploits harmonic colors. Bixler’s saxophone solo is Latin jazz-inspired; he builds the solo to an impressive climax.
“Richie Dwyer’s Reel” is a bluesy combination of jazz and a Celtic reel. The swing feel matches perfectly with the eight-note pulse of the melody. De Rosa and Cherico laydown a relaxed swing feel as the two Bixler’s sounds blend to present the melody. Bixler’s saxophone solo has elements of modern jazz and bebop as he floats over the swing feel. De Rosa’s woody bass has a moment in the spotlight with a strong sense of time and melody. The double-time version of the melody leads us to O’Farrill’s solo and again is used for the coda. A very creative arrangement by a wonderful band that knows no bounds.
Auction Project takes the vision of a massively creative saxophonist and combines it with a Juilliard-trained concert violinist, a four-time Grammy winner pianist, and an airtight rhythm section. The Irish theme is common throughout the group, and Bixler worked with O’Farrill’s father, who also was Irish, the legendary Afro-Cuban jazz pioneer Chico O’Farrill. The music is a beautiful blend of sounds that prove music is the universal language, and genres are meaningless in the hands of true masters.