Saxophonist Rob Dixon—best known for his prolific jazz career in both New York and Indianapolis—recently self-released his first album with the newly formed Rob Dixon Trio, entitled Coast to Crossroads.
Dixon is joined by the prolific 7-string guitar player Charlie Hunter—who also produced the record—and shuffle-drummer legend Mike Clark on the album, each of whom have each forged connections with Dixon by way of various sit ins both in and out of the studio throughout their careers. Additionally, trombonist Ernest Stuart, a former member of Brooklyn-based outfit Red Baraat, lends his close harmonies on about half of Crossroads’ tracks.
Coast to Crossroads draws from Dixon’s experiences both inland and on the coasts, and all of his travels in between, yielding a spontaneous and fresh vibe throughout the 11 tracks—nothing is overdubbed, and most of the tracks are first takes. The album kicks off with “Yo,” an homage to Clark’s East coast roots, with a funky push and pull between Clark’s signature Oakland funk and Hunter’s groove styling. The dynamic of the trio gives Dixon the space to sink his sax into, from the bluesy “Memphis Bus Stop,” to the swaggering shuffle, “Millions.” The album also features a few throwback covers, like the Tupac and Dr. Dre song “California Love” and Terence Trent D’arby’s pop hit “Wishing Well.”
While the first 10 tracks are completely a group effort, the album closes with an intimate, unaccompanied Dixon rendition of the jazz standard “It Could Happen to You,” which encapsulated the spur-of-the-moment dynamic the trio brought to the entire recording experience. “Charlie just told me, ‘Go in there and play any ballad you really love,’ and this is what came out,” Dixon explains. “I actually thought they were just testing mic levels in the control room, but what I played is what ended up on the record.”