Tuesday 14th November 2017
£10.00 - £10.00
LINE-UP: TONY TIXIER piano, CONOR CHAPLIN bass & SHANE FORBES drums
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”.
Tell us what you think of Tony Tixier Trio with special guest Keyon Harrold... presented by Alex Garnett below..