Fostina Dixon explores genres on “Vertical Alignment”

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Saxophonist Fostina Dixon brings decades of experience to bear on her latest album, ‘Vertical Alignment.” On the recording, Dixon plays two different types of saxophone, expresses songs in different genres and on a mostly instrumental album, ramps up the dynamics with the addition of vocals. The album is a triumph of style and expression. Two songs that shouldn’t be missed on “Vertical Alignment” are “Thank You” and “He Is Risen.” The album was released Nov. 1, 2019.

About Fostina Dixon

Dixon’s musical past is replete with celebrity names that allowed her to garner experience. People such as Marvin Gaye, Abbey Lincoln, Melba Liston and several others are included in Dixon’s roster of notables that she has performed with.

Dixon was one of the few female instrumentalists to lead her own band when she led Winds of Change. Dixon has worked as a composer, vocalist, educator, as well as saxophonist. After a hiatus, she returned with a comeback album in 2016, “Here We Go Again.”

“Vertical Alignment’s” title track was released as a single at the beginning of 2019. The song made the Jazz Network Charts, and remained there for weeks.

Dixon is known for her expressive, soulful style. That can be heard on “Vertical Alignment.” It is that style that earns the performer accolades from critics and fans.

In addition to her work as a performer, Dixon is also an accomplished educator and arts advocate. She won a Christi Award for promoting the arts in her community. Dixon is also the recipient of an Outstanding Arts Educator award from the Delaware Board of Education. Further, she has earned an Outstanding Contributor award from the Council of Jazz Advocates for her work as an arts educator. Dixon is also the founder and longtime executive director of the Wilmington Youth Jazz Band.

“Thank You” and “He Is Risen” by Fostina Dixon

“Thank You” is a funk-infused, jazz instrumental. The grooves here are deep, the saxophone notes almost resist pausing when the soundscape has a rest. The song produces a rhythm that is bound to make those prone to dancing move. The feel though, is confident, funky, but not overbearing. On this track Dixon plays both baritone and tenor saxophones. Those horns interact deftly with the heavy, nuanced bass. The song must be heard to be believed. As far as jazz instrumentals are concerned, this is a masterwork. It captures all of the verve of 1970s funk, with the intelligent design of contemporary jazz.

“He Is Risen,” stands in stark contrast to the vibe-filled “Thank You.” Not because it is without “vibe,” but because the rhythm is comparatively light. Dixon’s soprano saxophone is light and expressive. It weaves around a nimble bass and island-inspired percussion. The mood is joyous. The tone and approach of the song is likely to uplift spirits. The sound of “He Is Risen” evokes Easter and sunshine and ends on a triumphant note from Dixon’s saxophone. This is also the song that ends the album, so the feel and sound of the track stays with listeners for a while afterward.

“Vertical Alignment” sounds like an appropriate introduction to Dixon’s work, even if listeners have missed her tenure in Winds of Change. Each song is confident, bound in the traditions of the genre(s) it evokes, yet remaining wholly original in regard to Dixon’s ability to arrange and write songs. “Vertical Alignment” surprises with its musicality and overall expressiveness.

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Dodie Miller-Gould is a native of Fort Wayne, Indiana who lives in New York City where she studies creative nonfiction at Columbia University. She has BA and MA degrees in English from Indiana University-Purdue University, Fort Wayne, and an MFA in Fiction from Minnesota State University, Mankato. Her research interests include popular music and culture, 1920s jazz, and blues, confessional poetry, and the rhetoric of fiction. She has presented at numerous conferences in rhetoric and composition, and creative writing. Her creative works have appeared in Tenth Muse, Apostrophe, The Flying Island, Scavenger's Newsletter and elsewhere. She has won university-based awards for creative work and literary criticism.

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