When a female horn player’s branding is nothing less than “The Saxophone Queen,” she better deliver the goods – and in the case of Fostina Dixon, who plays soprano, alto and baritone (not to mention flute and clarinet) with equal sparkle and funk, she does that and a whole lot more on her hard hitting, deeply grooving, slickly and soulfully produced urban jazz album Vertical Alignment.
With only one previous album, the gospel-flavored Here We Go Again (2016), under her belt, Dixon is new to the smooth jazz realm – but she’s been tearing it up for decades with legends from the world of straight ahead jazz (Abbey Lincoln, Gil Evans, Roy Ayers, Joe Williams) and pop/R&B (late greats Prince and Marvin Gaye, whom she toured with for four years). With most tracks penned by Dixon and her husband Todd Kilgoe, her vibrant tone, melodic and improvisational gifts complement a keen sense of rhythmic variation, which takes us from the feisty tightness of “Strutt Some Mo” to the dreamy, sensual mid-tempo charms of “I’ll Always Remember,” featuring vocalist Jeff Murrell.
Helping take Dixon’s ample game to the higher realms of urban coolness are fellow musical vets and producers, bassist Al Turner and multi-instrumentalist Ray Chew. She also brings some of the inspirational church magic from her debut album to the new project via two of the most memorable tracks, the passionate ballad “Blessing Me Now” and the buoyant, Latin tinged “He is Risen.”