Tony Tixier - piano/composition
Karl McComas Reichl - double bass
Tommy Crane - drums
Recorded at Sear Sound Studios NYC by Chris Allen on April 29 & 30, 2016
Mixed & Mastered by Dave Darlington on June 9, 2016
Produced by Tony Tixier
Executive Producer - Michael Janisch
Photo cover by Alain Tixier
Photos back and inside by Jimmy Katz
Album Artwork by Barbara Govin
All songs written by Tony Tixier except 'Darn That Dream' (Jimmy Van Heusen), 'Tight Like This' (Louis Armstrong) and 'Isn’t She Lovely' (Stevie Wonder).
All arrangements by Tony Tixier
released December 8, 2017
ABOUT THE ALBUM
Radiating a venturesome singularity inspired as much by Maurice Ravel and Art Tatum as Herbie Hancock, Keith Jarrett or Aydin Esen, pianist Tony Tixier’s debut piano trio release, Life of Sensitive Creatures, features his original work alongside inspired interpretations in a stimulating program which breathes beauty and ingenuity.
Originally from France, Tony moved to NYC in 2012 and began to collaborate with a host of luminaries before his recent relocation to Los Angeles; yet this recording focuses on Tixier both as imaginative composer and mindful pianist: “As well as my sideman role, it also feels good to have my own voice and give life to my own melodies – so this feels different to my other projects. A trio is more about a direct, spontaneous and flowing conversation with artists who have something more than just the technical ability, so I chose players who are my friends and who feel a special empathy with my writing”. This open enthusiasm and willingness which Tixier receives from double bassist Karl McComas-Reichl and drummer Tommy Crane is affectionately described by the pianist as working with musicians who are “beginners with ‘big ears’” (in truth, both are accomplished, with experience garnered from playing in many line-ups). “My music needs more than solo piano, so they shape it, provide space and move it in different directions”.
Tixier’s creativity began early, studying classical piano at a conservatory from the age of six: “As a kid, I also wrote poetry – about life, happiness, sadness, illusion. So creating music is an extension of that – not in terms of a huge novel, but more like short stories, and all in a defined sequence. I use a journal to note down titles or a feeling, then a melody or a bass line might arrive; and I try to write every week, with two-, maybe three-hundred songs to date”.
The striking sincerity of the album’s cover art depicts Tony, as a child, in his mother’s arms – a visual representation of opening number ‘I Remember the Time of Plenty’, whose retrospective hazes and ebullient rhythms communicate the fleeting energy and happiness of formative years. ‘Denial of Love’ questions the effectiveness of global unity through inquiring piano and bass phrases, whilst ‘Illusion’ –Tixier’s expression of bearing the disillusionment of people or events that leave us – is positively conveyed through its impelling upward figure. The joyful blues of ‘Home At Last’ releases the pressure valve of touring with homespun bliss, and ‘Flow’ eddies to a jewel-like clarity.
Quaint 1920s Louis Armstrong stride-piano swinger ‘Tight Like This’ (which Tixier’s grandmother enjoyed singing) is a vibrant homage that cleverly refashions the reedy monaural original for angular piano trio; and the percussive pulse of ‘Calling Into Question’ might readily invite a pop vocal. Amongst urgent ‘Blind Jealousy of a Paranoid’ and mercurial ‘Causeless Cowards’ is tucked the limpid romanticism of Jimmy Van Heusen’s classic ‘Darn That Dream’; and there’s a fascinating take on ‘Isn’t She Lovely’ (the pianist highlighting Stevie Wonder’s prowess as an improviser, said to play ‘Giant Steps’ in soundchecks).
Tony Tixier currently plays in the bands of Christian Scott, Seamus Blake and Wallace Roney. But his sights are also resolutely set on his own path, his eclectic interests inclining his thoughts that Life of Sensitive Creatures is best not labelled as any one specific genre: “It’s a songbook of emotions, put to music – an invitation to travel with us to some unexpected places – a sensitive letter to life. You can listen, dance, call it what you want – but as a trio, we go beyond. We’re making art – a moving painting – and I’m proud of that”.
"Tixier evinces his own musical vocabulary and florid style and in conjunction with his talented sidemen has produced a really irresistible set."
★★★★ All About Jazz
“An album that repeats well, as you will hear new things in subsequent plays due to its numerous layers and complexities. Highly recommended."
★★★★★ UK Vibe
"Following him on his diaphanous, floating runs, often dazzling arpeggios and angular dyads and chords we find ourselves with him in a bottomless pit of emotion. But always we are extricated by the pianist with his easy, loping virtuosity that stretches melodic lines into gentle arcs and parabolas which carve the air in the room... This is a piano trio with a long life and this a disc to die for."
"Tixier has a light, fluid touch, able to move seamlessly from hushed block chords to rippling streams of notes... Highly virtuosic."
"Combines shifting-sand emotions, ebb-and-flow tensions and moments of surprise."
"Darn That Dream brings to mind Bill Evans and McComas-Reichl's bass solo is fit to stand alongside any of the great bassists past and present - an absolute gem."
Bebop Spoken Here
“Vibrant yet sensitive... An album full of poetry and emotion.”
Latins de Jazz
“Modern, beautiful interpretations... Poetry in sound.”
"It’s the original pieces that shine strongest on this solid straight-ahead modern work."
Bird is the Worm
"An indisputably talented leader, composer and pianist... Definitely one to take notice of."
"Sensitive yet vibrant, poetic and full of emotion."
"Tixier shines on this album as both an acoustic pianist and a composer and it’s a record that proves to be immediately attractive but which offers a wealth of satisfying detail just below the surface."
★★★★ The Jazz Mann
"An irresistible play on rhythms, dense colors that provide vivacity and contrast, a phrasing of the right hand that projects the melody forward at sharp angles and fiery intense lyricism."
★★★★ Le Magazine du Jazz
"Seamlessly fusing the edges of jazz, classical music and fusion and holding many moments of surprise, spontaneity and innovation."
Musik an sich
"An excellent set of originals and inspired interpretations full of beauty and ingenuity."
Rhein Main Magazine
“Repeated listening reveals new levels of complexity and creativity.”
Digitale Jazz Zeitung
“The melodies, elements of swing and the solos that fill this album show both playfulness and Tixier's compositional skills.”
“Tixier proves that even in the overcrowded discipline of jazz piano trios,outstanding recordings are still possible.”
“Tixier's art goes beyond the strikingly narrative... he weaves multi faceted, creative tales that are universal yet deeply personal.”
“An exciting newcomer... Remember his name.”
"Accentuated chords, sweeping melodies and layers of harmonic variety."
Jazz 'n' More
“Proving that outstanding piano trio recordings are still possible.”
Kind of Blue
“Sometimes playful... Always melodic and airy... A highly successful debut.”
“Tixier is one of the most promising pianists of his generation.”