The New York City Record review by Elliott Simon

Billy Fox’s Blackbirds and Bullets – Dulces (CF 204)
Dulces is a strong mix of culturally diverse influences. Billy Fox, a percussionist who composed six of the seven tunes, ostensibly sits out as a musician (he does add maracas on occasion) and allows a superb sextet to interpret his pieces. These tunes respectfully retain their worldliness, a credit to Fox’ robust aesthetic and the band’s keen perception of his intent. The results are both great party cuts along with spiritually contemplative pieces. A frontline of versatile trumpeter Miki Hirose and saxophonists Gary Pickard and Matt Parker engage in a manner that produces a worldly choir while individually conjuring up exotic lines. Keyboardist Evan Mazunik surprises with his funkiness and combines with bassist James Ilgenfritz and drummer Arei Sekiguchi to navigate what, at times, is a panoply of infectious rhythms. The session begins with Hirose tentatively using his horn to explore the melodic curds and whey of “Girl Cheese Sandwich” before Sekiguchi signals a catchy tri-horn voicing that is put to bed by an evocative extended bassline. Pickard’s snake-charming soprano sax then lays down a refrain that hypnotizes “Go Pocket Pickles!” into a semi-tumescent state. This is perfect foreplay for the full blown excitement of “Deva Dasi”, featuring Julianne Carney’s erotically exotic violin as part of this extended paean to the ancient Indian ‘temple girl’ tradition. A quick funky visit to “Tatsin” is made courtesy of Mazunik’s hip organ and Parker’s tenor before “Elisha and the She Bears” powerfully retells its biblical story of prophetic vengeance. Things close out with an ethereally beautiful version of a selection from Bengali cultural pillar Rabindranath Tagore’s large corpus of songs. Worldly in every sense, Dulces is a sweet but by nomeans sugary mix of Mid-Eastern, South Asian and African musical ingredients, thoroughly blended into a jazz base.

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