CONNIE CROTHERS, PIANO
CONNIE CROTHERS, pianist, has lived her musical life as performer, recording artist and teacher releasing the feeing that is her source into the music which realizes her range of expression, her virtuosity based in her love of the instrument and her desire to discover everything she can hear and imagine through spontaneous improvisation.
This year, her quartet, with Richard Tabnik on alto saxophone, Ken Filiano on bass, Roger Mancuso on drums, released "Deep Friendship," New Artists label, from a performance at William Paterson University. The quartet celebrated the CD release in a performance at Roulette in Brooklyn. She appeared in the Vision Festival with Times Three, a trio with Henry Grimes on bass and violin and Melvin Gibbs on electric bass, as well as with the dancer Patricia Parker, violinist Mazz Swift and bassist Shayna Dulberger. She toured California with Jessica Jones, tenor saxophone, celebrating their CD release, "Live at the Freight." This CD was chosen for their best of the year lists by Ken Weiss and Duck Baker. She performed in a quartet with tenor saxophonist Louis Belogenis, Ken Filiano and drummer Michael Wimberley, and in another quartet with Kevin Norton on vibes and percussion, Ed Schuller and Roger Mancuso. She presented duo performances with Richard Tabnik, singer Cheryl Richards, bassist Ken Filiano, guitar player Dan Rose, trumpet player Ryan Messina, bassoonist Claire DeBrunner, tenor saxophone player Will Jhun.
In 2013, she performed at the Vision Festival with poet Steve Dalachinsky. With the Northwoods Improvisers—Skeeter Shelton on tenor saxophone, Mike Gilmore on vibes, bassist Mike Johnston, drummer Nick Ashton—she appeared at the Edge Festival. She performed solo at Roulette. A duo CD with alto saxophone player Jemeel Moondoc, "Two," was released on the Relative Pitch Label.
In 2012, the French label RogueArt released a four-CD box set, a duo with pianist David Arner, "Spontaneous Suites for Two Pianos." Ken Weiss chose it for his best of 2012 list. Grego Applegate Edwards writes: "It is one of the finest improvisational solo-pianistic moments we have experienced in recorded form to date. It will repay your attention with an enthralling sublimity." Poet Paula Hackett and Connie collaborated on a poetry/improvised piano duo CD, "Sharing the Thrill."
In 2011. “Live at the Stone, NYC’’ features her quartet, with poet Mark Weber was released. Another band release is “Band of Fire,” the quartet plus Roy Campbell on trumpet. A duo CD with clarinet player Bill Payne,”The Stone Set,” is a 2-CD release, one CD from a performance at The Stone and the other CD a re-release of their first recording, “Conversations.” This was chosen for Ken Waxman's best of the year list. Bill Shoemaker and Art Lange had selected "Conversations" for their best of the year lists when it was released originally. “Kingston Tone Roads,” features a duet with Kevin Norton on vibes and percussion, with Tabnik on one track, New Vanguard label. TranceFormation, a trio, with singer Andrea Wolper and bassist Ken Filiano, released selections from two live performances on "TranceFormation in Concert." She accompanies singer Alexis Parsons on "Hippin'." In June, 2011, the quartet performed at the Vision Festival in New York City. They received a standing ovation. Writing about the set in Jazz Inside, Ken Weiss described this set as “the highlight of the Festival.”
In 2010, Connie's quartet with Tabnik, Filiano and drummer Klaus Kugel toured Siberia and Germany. the Mutable label released “Session at 475 Kent,” a duo with bassist Michael Bisio, in 2010. This CD placed on three best 10 records of the year lists, Grego Edwards and Jason Bivins in Cadence, and Tim DuRoche in Jazz Journalists Association. In October, 2009, she performed duo with Bisio at Location One, presented by Roulette, in New York City.
In January 2007, her quartet released a CD, “Music is a Place,” New Artists, with Ratzo Harris on bass. It was chosen by Stuart Broomer and Bill Shoemaker for their lists of the top ten recordings of the year; it received an honorable mention for best CDs of the year in All About Jazz/New York. In December, 2009, Howard Mandel chose this record for his best of the year list, in a listening category. The band’s two CDs, “Ontology” and “Live, Outpost Performance Space,” with poet Mark Weber, New Artists, received critical acclaim. She has performed with her quartet at the The Stone, JVC Jazz Festival and in Birdland, Small’s, Clemente Solo Velez, Rhythm in the Kitchen, Cooler in the Shade in New York City, Cultural Center in Ekaterinburg, Russia, Fasching in Stockholm and Town Hall in Tallin, Estonia (with guitarist Andy Fite and bassist Ulf Ackerhielm), Outpost Performance Space in Albuquerque, NM.
Connie curated The Stone in September, 2009. This curation was selected by Time Out magazine for a preview, getting the #2 spot for best live performance in New York City.
She has performed extensively as a soloist. In 2011, she performed solo in San Francisco, CA, Bay City, MI, Chicago, IL and in Paris. She appeared solo in the 2008 Vision Festival, the only solo set in the Festival that year. Ken Weiss wrote in Cadence that her set was one of the best three sets of the Festival. She was presented as a soloist by the Interpretations Series at Merkin Hall in 2006, New York City, also performing a duet with Roscoe Mitchell in that concert; she performed at the Northhamton Center for the Arts in the "World of Piano" series. Deep Listening Space in Kingston, NY. She has performed solo in festivals such as Berlin Jazztage, Jazz at Middleheim in Belgium, DuMaurier International Festival in Toronto, New Music America Festival, “Piano Nights” Festival in St. Augustine. Lennie Tristano produced her in three solo concerts in Carnegie Recital Hall, a fourth was produced by the Lennie Tristano Jazz Foundation, produced by Jazz Records on a 2-lp set, "Solo." John Sutherland chose her solo recording, “Music from Everyday Life,” for his list of the best ten recordings of the year in Coda.
She appeared in performance with percussionist Kevin Norton at Location One and Cornelia Street, NYC; Middletown, CT, and in Kingston, NY. In 2011, she performed with poet Paula Hackett in San Francisco. She performed with Jemeel Moondoc, bassist Henry Grimes and drummer Chad Taylor at The Stone, also a trio performance with Grimes and Moondoc and a duet with Grimes at The Stone in New York City; She performed with Jemeel Moondoc at Hallwalls in Buffalo, Tonic in NYC and at the Vision Festival in a quintet which included trumpet player Nathan Breedlove, bassist Adam Lane and drummer John McCutcheon. She performed duo with electroacoustic improviser Ben Manley at Location One.
Connie recorded duo with Max Roach as part of his historic duets recording project--”Swish,” New Artists--and performed duo with Roach in Tokyo, Bologna, New Orleans and at the Brooklyn Academy of Music with the Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Dance Company. They were honored by Harvard University as Visiting Jazz Artists; during the ceremony they performed with the Harvard University Band. For this concert, Anthony Braxton wrote a composition for them.
She co-led an engagement at the Village Vanguard with Warne Marsh, in a quartet featuring bassist Eddie Gomez and drummer Peter Scattaretico. She performed with Marsh, with Roger Mancuso and bassist Joe Solomon in Carnegie Recital Hall.
“Love Energy,” New Artists, a quartet CD co-led by Lenny Popkin and featuring Carol Tristano and Cameron Brown, was chosen #1 record of the year by Jack Cooke in Wire. Another release from this quartet, “In Motion,” was selected for the best 50 records of the year by the French magazine, Jazz Magazine. This quartet appeared at the Blue Note, Sweet Basil and Birdland in New York City, De Singel, De Werf and L’Archeduc in Belgium, Bimhuis in Amsterdam, the Toronto International Jazz Festival, Ottowa Jazz Festival, the Lennie Tristano Club in Aversa, Italy, Spoleto Festival in Charleston, NC.
When her first record, “Perception,” originally on SteepleChase, was reissued in 1983 on Inner City, it was selected as one of the ten best records of the year by Mark Weber in Coda. When it was reissued in 1986, Patrick Williams chose it for record of the month in Jazz Magazine. When it was reissued in 1995, Claude Colpaert selected it as record of the month in Jazz Hot. Her duet recording with Richard Tabnik, “Duo Dimension,” was selected by Lois Moody for her year’s ten best list in Ottowa Citizen.
Feature articles have appeared in Jazz Inside, Knack (Belgium), Jazz Podium (Germany), Cadence, The Village Voice, All About Jazz New York.
She was a guest on Marian McPartland’s radio show “Piano Jazz.” She was honored by the Jazz Museum in Harlem by being featured in their series “Harlem Speaks.”
In the centennial issue of Cadence, she was selected for the list of the most important and influential musicians in the last twenty-five years of the 20th century.
Connie studied with and taught in association with Lennie Tristano. He wrote, for her first record, "Perception": "Connie Crothers is the most original musician it has ever been my privilege to work with."
photo by Rob Clark