By Anthony Dean-Harris | Published April 2021
Pianist Tony Tixier’s lovely I Am Human, primarily comprised of duets, provides assorted textures and tones to showcase his thinking. Over the course of seven remotely recorded songs, the pianist functions as a base over which his chosen accompanist for each song improvises.
It’s a novel approach to try to make the best of the pandemic situation. And listeners might not notice, or mind, that this music wasn’t created in person, or in the moment. Regardless, these ballads have a solemnity to them that feels appropriate.
The album’s penultimate tune, the solo Tixier spot “Leaking Life,” is very much befitting of the release. It segues into “When They Happen,” which features alto saxophonist Logan Richardson and easily ranks among the most inspired of the selections here. But the whole recording seemingly was building to these songs; they somehow feel as if they’ve been drawn from an entirely different project. There’s a unique air about them, the two original compositions contrasting with the previous ambling five songs, most of which are covers.
However, when juxtaposed with these previous tracks, it also crystallizes the project—illuminating the complexity of Tixier’s humanity. He is isolated, connecting in a singular and specific way with his musical brethren (and at one point, his actual twin brother, violinist Scott Tixier) to reach the highs and lows of I Am Human.
If we’re currently witnessing an era when jazz is wrestling with its survival, Tixier’s work here shows how powerful the music actually is.
I Am Human: Humain; Someone To Watch Over Me; But Beautiful; Like Someone In Love; You Know I Care; Leaking Life; When They Happen. (26:45)
Personnel: Tony Tixier, piano; Scott Tixier (2), violin; Hermon Mehari (3), trumpet; Ben Leifer (4), bass; Adrien Soleiman (5), tenor saxophone; Logan Richardson (6), alto saxophone.