Scott Tixier: Sketches Of Michael Jackson

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Scott Tixier's "Elephant Rose" taps into modern-day nostalgia and still brings about something fresh.

Scott Tixier's "Elephant Rose" taps into modern-day nostalgia and still brings about something fresh. Chris Drukker hide caption

toggle caption Chris Drukker

Tuesday's Pick

Song: "Elephant Rose"

Artist: Scott Tixier

CD: Brooklyn Bazaar

Genre: Jazz

Soon after Michael Jackson's death in 2009, many of his songs popped up on jazz albums. While French violinist and composer Scott Tixier doesn't provide a forthright makeover to "I Can't Help It" — a Stevie Wonder-penned ballad from Jackson's Off the Wall — he does interpolate its Brazilian-tinged bass line in his captivating "Elephant Rose."

As soon as bassist Massimo Biolcati and drummer Arthur Vint nail down that instantly recognizable motif, Tixier's vibrant violin enters the fray, sounding almost as if he's going to quote the melody from "I Can't Help It." But after a brief dramatic bridge, his cogent improvisation blossoms into a gorgeous melody, uniquely its own. Biolcati slyly departs from the motif while keeping a glint of it intact.

As the song proceeds, the collective improvisation grows more involved, leading to Jesse Elder's rippling piano solo and a bustling drum essay from Vint. When "Elephant Rose" concludes, it reveals Tixier as not only a remarkable improviser, but also a cunning contemporary jazz composer. He knows full well how to hint at a yesteryear classic, tap into modern-day nostalgia and still bring about something fresh and clean.

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Brooklyn Bazaar

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Brooklyn Bazaar
Scott Tixier
Sunnyside Communications

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