David Bixler / Arturo O'Farrill

The Auction Project

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Jazz has been combined with a wide variety of world music over the years. One could spend hours and hours discussing Stan Getz and Chick Corea's interest in Brazilian music, Dizzy Gillespie's Afro-Cuban breakthroughs, or the way that McCoy Tyner fearlessly incorporated Indian, Middle Eastern, and Asian music on his classic modal albums of the early 1970s. But one thing that hasn't received much attention from the jazz world is Celtic music, and the fact that 2010's The Auction Project is an acoustic post-bop date with a strong Celtic influence (Irish as well as Scottish) certainly sets it apart from other post-bop recordings that were made in 2010. No one will mistake this David Bixler/Arturo O'Farrill CD for an album by the Chieftains; The Auction Project is by no means a straight-ahead Celtic disc. Rather, alto saxman Bixler and pianist O'Farrill (who are joined by violinist Heather Martin Bixler, bassist Carlo Derosa, drummer Vince Cherico, and percussionist Roland Guerrero) combine acoustic post-bop with both Celtic and Afro-Cuban elements on Bixler originals as well as on unlikely arrangements of traditional tunes such as "She Moves Through the Fair," "Banish Misfortune," and "The Chicken Went to Scotland." Certainly, that post-bop/Celtic/Afro-Cuban mixture isn't something one hears every day in jazz, but it works well on The Auction Project --and the musicians bring out the Celtic element without being nearly as sentimental as traditional Celtic recordings are known for being. In fact, a lot of people who are seriously into hardcore Celtic groups like the Chieftains, Altan, and the Clancy Brothers would probably find The Auction Project to be overly cerebral. Regardless, this is an intriguing effort that lovers of experimental world jazz shouldn't overlook.

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