Alex Dixon

Rising from the Bushes

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Alex Dixon is the grandson of blues pioneer Willie Dixon, who he toured with as a pianist up until the death of the legendary bassist and composer. This recording reflects more of a blues-rock than urban Chicago edge, with soul tossed in as well. The beat of these tunes is dominated by veterans Alvino Bennett (of Koko Taylor's band) and two tracks featuring the veteran pop and rock studio drummer James Gadson. This more contemporary, populist approach to the blues in a way relegates Dixon's piano playing to a sidebar, and he also leaves the singing to various others, most notably the near legendary Marcy Levy, well known for her work with Little Feat, Bob Seger, and countless others. She's featured on two selections: wailing in the upper register for the straight rock-blues "Fantasy" and on the slow, sexy "Paint You a Picture," with some nice harmonica work from Michael Fell. Very few, except Kathi McDonald, have ever rivaled Levy in the decades following Janis Joplin. Alan Mirikitani (aka B.B. Chung King) plays guitar, and sings in a soul bag reminiscent of Robert Cray on three tracks, including the heavy backbeat-driven "Lose Control" and similar tunes "My Suspicious Mind" (where Alex Dixon plays piano more up-front) and "These Are the Times" (where he switches to Fender Rhodes). The vocalist in the main is David Dills, who has a tougher, more calculated voice on Willie Dixon's all-time classic "Spoonful," done in a steely rock-hard facade, and "Down in the Bottom," a "Rollin' and Tumblin'"-type rock-blues. Alex Dixon penned eight of these selections, and it's clear he wants to bring the blues forward into modern times rather than rehashing tried and true traditional standards. This is most evident during "Still in Love with You," not a cover of Al Green's hit, but a simplified slow pop-blues. A previous recording with Cash McCall is the only other recording readily available from Alex Dixon, but he's still in his thirties, with much room for growth, hopefully a desire to step out and show his true colors as a blues pianist, and maybe an authentic tribute to Otis Spann, Pinetop Perkins, or Lafayette Leake in his soul.

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