Rex's Press Clippings

Michael McCaw -

Quicker Than The Eye is not your standard piano trio fare. Pianist Rex Cadwallader, bassist Mike Asetta, and drummer Ati Dixson are pushing the excepted norms of how different camps of jazz are defined through original and inspired playing. Whether or not you are willing to listen depends on how staunch you are concerning the brand of jazz you affiliate yourself with.

Boasting a style that straddles the common precepts of what the smooth and straightahead jazz idioms are supposed to sound like, Quicker Than The Eye melds these sounds together in every performance to varying degrees. Where no one song pledges allegiance to either camp, they are also seemingly rooted in both. As a pianist, Cadwallader frequently lays down an infectious groove with strong solos often incorporating an electronic keyboard sound some listeners may find more in tune with smooth jazz. Combined with the group sound, the trio falls somewhere between the lines of more commercial Chick Corea (an admitted influence) and the more dynamic players of pop-oriented jazz like recent Crusaders or Yellowjackets with an ideology akin to someone like Mark Elf, who has tread the popular and the critical to a good degree of success.

Cadwallader writes in the liner notes of the album that as a child he was captivated by magic and the idea that "the unseen was just as real as the seen." As an adult he believes he has retained much of this excitement and hopes to translate some of it into music. And he is working this reference a lot, in every sense. Songs like "White Doves and Purple Silk" sound at first glance something you would find on the smooth jazz hit chart. Even so, the music doesn't quite fit as it refuses to be passive, all three musicians working together to be heard seriously.

Wanting to emulate the word play of Nat Adderley's "Fun" and "Games," Cadwallader pens two of the strongest tracks in "Now You See ItÉ" and "ÉNow You Don't." Both favor, as most do, an upbeat memorable melody that allows for interesting solos. But neither strays far off the path either, never really moving beyond the safe parameters they have defined from the onset. Cadwallader is an impressive pianist, no matter what you think of the sound employed on the album. He creates a wonderful swagger and drive throughout as he works each of his compositions with verve.

Ultimately, for listeners who are open to a more pop-oriented sound with some of the fire of straight jazz piano, there is a lot to discover here. Cadwallader, Asetta, and Dixson are plowing a hard road here when it comes to bridging these often dogmatic and fervently opposed camps. But they do so with vigor and confidence and a high degree of success. If listeners from both spheres give Quicker Than The Eye a chance, many will find a lot to enjoy. Conversely, others are likely to dismiss it for the very same reasons.

Bruce Crowther

The piano, bass and drums trio of Rex Cadwallader, Mike Asetta and Arti Dixson is an exceptionally attractive group. Their last CD, Broadway - West Side Story with guest flautist Ali Ryerson, was of familiar music. On this 2005 CD all the pieces are originals by Rex and all are vivid and imaginative compositions. Individually, these are first class musicians, collectively they have a flair that marks them out from most p-b-d trios. Fiery and exhilarating, this is a group to listen out for, live or on record. If these three musicians are new to you, this album is a first-rate introduction to their many and considerable skills.

Dick Metcalf - Zzaj Productions (Improvijazzation Nation Issue # 72 REVIEWS)

Rex Cadwallader's keyboards are joined by bass from Mike Asetta & drums from Arti Dixson on this sleek little jazz CD... tasty music with th' kind of verve I grew up on in the '60's & '70's. Now, I'm not callin' 'em "retro", or any such kind of thing... they've definitely got their own style & it stays firmly rooted in the energies of the 21st century! What carries me back to earlier years, though, is the fact that they're expressing heavy-duty creativity that just won't quit. I'm diggin' those keys more & more, fluid as can be & rooted in th' phunk that jazz is all about. Asetta's bass is well recorded, & th' drums that Arti plays are steady & true from start to finish. I expect that this one will be loved by fans of solid jazz everywhere, & give it a MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED, especially for those who are fond of great keyboard works.

Germein Linares in All About Jazz - LA - June 2005

Quicker Than The Eye is, according to the liner notes, based on the theme of magic. Certainly, some of the titles reflect this notion, but the music is, luckily, more treats than tricks. The album's ten tracks are often soothing, graceful motions, with pianist Rex Cadwallader, bassist Mike Asetta, and drummer Arti Dixson working well with one another. Their work is rarely extravagant or showy. Instead, the trio's music relies on jazz' subtler, softer touches - it's more evocative qualities, to entice and delight the mind. It is an oft-traveled, safe path they choose, no doubt, but it works well for this threesome. The results are often pleasing and rewarding. Recommended to fans who like their jazz calm and kind, Quicker Than The Eye is an easy piece on the ears.

Paula Edelstein, All Music Guide

Following on the heels of Broadway - West Side Story, their well-received previous release with flutist Ali Ryerson, Cadwallader, Asetta & Dixson probe into the idea of magical ideas and images. With Quicker Than the Eye, pianist Rex Cadwallader, bassist Mike Asetta, and drummer Arti Dixson draw on contemporary influences like Chick Corea and the Yellowjackets as well as the smooth jazz sounds of Bob James and David Benoit to depict the illusions of the magical world. The Emmy-winning pianist/composer incorporates essential elements from the world of magic with song titles that give a hint to their back story. "Houdini,""Dirty Tricks," and "Prestidigitation" feature the pianist's thematic repetition and awesome solos. The 11 tracks encapsulate the art ofthe trio and are more than just a collection of studio recordings. The two-part "Now You See It..."/"...Now You Don't" is not only an in-the-pocket uptempo swing tune with a great straight-ahead groove and a repeating riff, but it also features a fresh, forward-oriented spirit. Top picks: "Quicker Than the Eye" (a great samba) and "White Doves & Purple Silk," which is one of the lovelier and more graceful pieces on the recording.

Brian G. LaRue in The New Haven Advocate - July 7, 2005

An appropriately titled disc: Pianist and composer Rex Cadwallader leads a jazz trio (including bassist Mike Asetta and drummer Arti Dixson) through eleven mostly frenetic, always busy arrangements of original pieces. Infused with moderate bop, skewed blues, fusion and pop, the trio never gets too far "out," but keeping it relatively safe doesn't imply sitting still. With Cadwallader's constantly-ascending solos, Asetta's frequent bass chords and harmonics, and Dixson' 80mph hands all rolling together like a barrel down a hill, the chemistry between them is tangible, as is the amount of fun they likely had recording this album.

Sheldon T. Nunn -

Contemporary jazz is a highly regarded eclectic style of music that contains essential elements of a variety of genres. Through the process of creative flow, they are included in an artist's visionary effort. The end result may well be an album that highlights the characteristics of bop, bebop, straight ahead, R&B and other styles of music to further enhance the conceptualized product. In the case of Rex Cadwallader, Mike Ansetta and Arti Dixson, their musical journey into the realm of jazz has included a variety of styles to make their own personal statement. Their latest CD entitled Quicker Than The Eye dissects 11 original tracks of improvised melodious sound. With amazing ingenuity and precision, pianist Rex Cadwallader and company have pushed the envelope of creativity by including harmonically compatible jaunts into their versions of what jazz should be about.

Quicker Than The Eye is a recording that draws upon the influences of David Benoit, Chick Corea, Bob James and The Yellowjackets to carry the essence of piano jazz. As a noted composer, pianist and educator, Cadwallader's nimble piano forays are complementary to the delicate maneuverings that are provided by bassist Mike Asetta and drummer Arti Dixson. Together, this dynamic trio of merry men have spun a web of up tempo groove oriented tracks that are augmented by very simplistic melodic by-lines. At various times, Quicker Than The Eye is quite subtle in approach; however, Rex's overall interpretation of his brand of contemporary jazz also includes a high degree of energy. When examining the scope of this recording, it can be said that Quicker Than The Eye is an all-inclusive by-product of everything original. When examining where the appeal would lie artistically, even the weakest of jazz connoisseurs are entertained by this unique blend of sound activated energy. The ease in which the release fluidly ebbs and flows makes a positive universal statement for the future of jazz. It does so without the underpinnings of smooth jazz ideology that have often marred the collective jazzscape as a whole.

When examining the overall impact of Rex Cadwallader's Quicker Than The Eye, the optimum words have to be uniquely qualified to be different. With the much-heralded support of his two sidemen, Rex has laid down an unstoppable groove that is picturesque and illuminating. Pushing the limits of his creative output has allowed Cadwallader to record an exceptional album. With jazz as a backdrop, Quicker Than The Eye is true to form in bringing contemporary jazz into the mainstream.

D. Oscar Groomes - O's Place Jazz Newsletter

Rex Cadwallader plays keyboards, Mike Asetta plays bass and Arti Dixson plays drums. The trio plays a bubbly set of eleven tunes, all written by Cadwallader. The opening title track is a samba but the venue changes throughout the program. There is the racy fusion of "Prestidigitation", the cool vibe of "Can You Keep A Secret" and the funky syncopation of "Dirty Tricks". Collectively it is a pleasant listening set. 4/4

John Kelman -

In the competitive world of the jazz trio, you have to distinguish yourself, or else you run the risk of fading into the background along with the countless others who may have a certain degree of talent, but lack the personal vision to lend their music the distinction necessary to draw listeners in for the long haul. Pianist Rex Cadwallader and his trio with electric bassist Mike Asetta and drummer Arti Dixon clearly have skill. But unfortunately, they demonstrate little to raise them above the larger milieu on their debut release, Quicker Than the Eye. Author Stephen King once said, on the subject of writing, that you can drink champagne out of a piece of fine crystal or a Flintstone jelly glass. The drink's the same, but there is a difference.

And so, when listening to a new trio, one looks for that "ping" of fine crystal; and as pleasant as Cadwallader and company are, as capable as they are of forging a contemporary sound that draws heavily on influences including Chick Corea, the Yellowjackets, and smooth jazz artists like Bob James and David Benoit, they ultimately sound too generic to elevate them and generate the kind of interest that makes one want to keep returning for more.

That's not to say that they aren't solid players. Cadwallader has a nice touch and attractive sense of voicing. His writing style ranges from the title track, which gives more than a small nod to Chick Corea's classic "Spain," to the 3/4 shuffle feel of "Now You See It," the uptempo swing of "Prestidigitation," and the pop-like balladry of "Can You Keep a Secret." While he augments his piano sound with a number of electronic textures, Cadwallader uses them as icing on the cake, rather than the primary confection--much the same way as Yellowjackets keyboardist Russell Ferrante has created a more acoustically balanced sound in recent years. In fact, the whole recording tends to feel like Yellowjackets lite.

Asetta and Dixon are comfortable navigating Cadwallader's variety of rhythmic feels. Dixon has studied with Jack DeJohnette, and it shows in his looser approach to material like "Houdini," perhaps the most open-ended track of the set, and "Nothing Up My Sleeve," which begins with him plying his not-inconsiderable chops before settling into a comfortable medium-tempo blues. Asetta's firm sense of swing on "Dirty Tricks" and seemingly out-of-nowhere dexterity on "ÉNow You Don't" maintain, along with Dixon's assured and at times slightly untethered approach, a solid foundation over which Cadwallader can build his solos, which always demonstrate a clear sense of purpose.

The album is certainly accessible enough to appeal to a broad audience, and just as there's something to be said for a story well-told, there's also something to be said for engaging music well-played. Quicker Than the Eye may not have the unique voice to give it lasting power, but it's certainly a pleasant way to spend an hour. And sometimes that's enough.

Praise for broadway - music from"West Side Story"

Jim Santella in "Cadence Magazine"

"...Broadway stages and the Hollywood big screen ...takes a back seat to the cool jazz interpretation that this charming quartet finds appropriate."

"Ali Ryerson's gentle alto flute and C flute weave each melody around these remembered scenes with care."

"'Maria' begins quiet and hollow with Rex Cadwallader's convincing piano interpretation."


Jack Bowers in "All About Jazz" (

"...gracefully perforrmed by Broadway, a well-ordered quartet whose melodic aspects rest largely in the capable hands of flautist Ali Ryerson."

"Ryerson in an admirable soloist, as is Cadwallader."


Peter Westbrook in

"Broadway's elegant interpretation is welcome... the group has a good rapport."


Jim Santella in "L. A. Jazz Scene"

"(Broadway - Music from "West Side Story") contains a considerably up-close and personal kind of charm."

"Their cohesiveness during ensemble passages provides depth."

"West Side Story" is timeless, and Broadway's interpretations honor the memory of this inestimable music."


Robert Burns - WUMR, Memphis,TN

"My listeners were delighted. I'll be going back to this one."


Jack Simpson - WUCF, Cocoa Beach, FL

"A favorite flutist of mine, with a most enjoyable trio - and of course the music, the music treated with love and respect."


D. Oscar Groomes - O's Place Newsletter

"The music really swings, but also retains the feel and character of the original. Each song had nice pace and feeling to make the session shine."


Jerry L. Atkins - KTXK-FM, Texarkana, TX

"Ali Ryerson is no stranger to me. I've been listening to her masterful flute for a long time. The quartet proves how well-organized this project is. Congratulations to all for such a nice production."


Ginney Coleman - KCUR, Kansas City, MO

"Ali Ryerson - swingin' flute."


Monica Hatch - WICN, Worcester, MA

"Your interpretation of "Maria" is absolutely breath taking! Ali Ryerson is one of my favorites..."

Bob Levoy - WRHU, Hempstead, NY

"Excellent jazz interpretation of the music from West Side Story - by first rate musicians."


Praise for The Cadwallader/Chevan Duo

"Recognized by jazz enthusiasts as one of the nation's top duos..."

International Festival of Arts and Ideas - New Haven, CT

"This is jazz at its finest."

Bill Meddick, Executive Director - Milford, CT Fine Arts Council

Praise for "The Art of Trio"

" The Art of the Trio is an imaginative album of straightahead jazz ... a series of really charming tracks, propelled ably by Chevan's punchy bass lines."

George Robinson in Jewish Week


" exercise in versatility."

Fran Fried in The New Haven Register


"...a CD that delivers and delivers well! Rex Cadwallader on piano and David Chevan on bass are a duo that is a welcome addition to jazz music everywhere! These guys can soar..."

Lee Prosser in Jazz At A Glance (


"...Cadwallader and Chevan... do the job of providing the structure and framework for the guests to perform effectively."

Michael Gladstone - 52nd


Praise for "Repartee"

"Rex does the theme ("Tenderly") in shorthand: blunt clusters of notes, with a shimmer at the end of each phrase. So tender is his solo, this reminds me of Bill Evans."

John Barrett in


"...a very classy album."

Fran Fried in The New Haven Register


"...interesting phrasing on "Blue Bossa", some adventurous playing on "Variations on a Theme, By George" and a pleasing version of "I'll Remember April."

Ron Kemm in


"Cadwallader is in charge at the keyboard, playing with assurance and a light touch; Chevan backs him up, getting a big, round, secure tone on the bull fiddle. Their versions are authoritative, thought-provoking, and good for repeat listenings."

John Herr in Cadence Magazine