Connie Crothers

Music is a Place

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Over the years pianist Connie Crothers and alto saxophonist Richard Tabnik have always been compared to their mentors and heroes Lennie Tristano and Lee Konitz, yet they have long since broken away from those influences and formed unique, deep, creative voices of their own. This project with a quartet straddles the line between modern mainstream and creative improvised music that is certainly a difficult aesthetic to achieve. They have attained a very high level of musicianship, a sense of self that is clear, and a style of making jazz oriented music that is unique and sets them apart from many other similar souls. As are Tristano or Thelonious Monk, Crothers is fond of angular lines that grow into many tangents based primarily on a single note or chord. There is nothing complacent or tame as you listen to her ideas flow on the longish "Helen's Tune," the free hard bopper "You're the One," or the diffuse peace and justice motif directions of "Ditmas Ave. Angels," and the combined written and spontaneous composition of "Carol's Dream." Drummer Roger Mancuso, though quite adept with timekeeping, utilizes scattered, non-idiomatic, chopped-up lines as colorations, most prevalent on "Helen's Tune." Tabnik, while falling along similar geometric concepts, also has a unique ability to expand the timbres of his horn, stretching into the upper soprano or sopranino range. Intervals are accomplished in leaps and bounds, in a Charles Mingus fashion during "Deep Friendship" and the 5:00 P.M. hustle and bustle of "New York City in the Blue Hour." There's a considerable amount of unison between Crothers and Tabnik that is remarkable by any criterion. The witty, tough, and single-minded bass playing of the legendary Ratzo Harris, a true treasure of jazz, ties it all together. The stated concept of emphasizing "feeling more than procedure" is honestly and fervently displayed on this project, part of an all too small discography for the still emerging and growing pianist and her thoroughly modern and bold small ensemble.

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