Anna Diorio drew this into my journal at the concert in Beacon NY — August 24, 2o14
CANTILEVER’D & PIROUETTES
The lithe blonde on the piano
is inside the form even as
she is outside
balancing a spill, like a waitress
tottering a tray of martinis, very nimble
she understands the measure
of swing, swinging furiously, swings
things out to the teetering edge: Lennie’s Pennies!
There was a banister up above where I took this photo during the soundcheck —- a surrounding balcony for library book shelves in this 1870s building by the architect Richard Morris Hunt —- now The Howland Cultural Center —- August 24, 2o14 — photo by Mark Weber
You begin to realize New York State is all trees —- one big forest north of the city. We drove through it on something called Taconic Parkway, everything as green as can be, bright sunny day, past a turn-off to the Land of Pudding, those trees have learned not to grow too huge or too straight else they become an asset in a Wall Street portfolio, they don’t want to be cut down, and did that sign really say: “Pudding Lane”? Puts one in mind that a nice bowl of pudding wouldn’t be so bad right about now, I wonder who invented pudding? Trismegistis? taking a break from inventing bronze alloy (copper & tin) he conjured up some pudding? What is it exactly? Maybe one of these lakes I keep seeing fly by out the window are pudding? It flows from the streams out of chocolate creamy mountains, sure is a mess if it splatters on your windshield. We’re looking for Beacon, a little village on the Hudson River, an exit that takes us to the old gothic-tower’d wooden library created by the same guy who designed the platform that the Statue of Liberty stands upon — holding the Lamp of Freedom & Pudding — Kazzrie absorbing the rolling hills, feeling the Hudson River confluences, preparing herself for the Sunday afternoon concert, even as she drives. This is a magical landscape, something like a Maxfield Parrish painting . . . .
Kazzrie at the wheel of Beautiful Dreamer (2o12 Chevy Impala) aka “my Republican car” with Anna shotgun, me in the back ——- somewhere between NYC and Beacon —- August 24, 2o12 —- Kazzrie had stayed over in the city (at Dori Levine’s) that night after Connie’s Quartet performance at the Stone —- we convened at my hotel on 23rd (Leo House, a Catholic Hostelry for Travelers, very congenial lodgings) that morning and took to the roads
This band has ventured deep into the heart of swing. Swing appears to be a place where the pulse is anchored to a rock-solid time sense even as it swells and roils like the incoming tide. The part that is the swing is swirling like eddies of air & light, of tides pushing & pulling against the docks. You know how you watch the swirling around the pilings of a pier, this is the best way to describe this band. Or the clouds in the sky.
The Kazzrie Jaxen Quartet —- Howland Art Center —- August 24, 2o14 —— Don Messina, bass; Bill Chattin, drums; Kazzrie Jaxen, piano; Charley Krachy, tenor saxophone (shoeless, for that extra Prez effect) — photo by Mark Weber
(I am prone to spell eddys thus, and upon looking into internet for philological history I find this at Wikipedia which illuminates this band perfectly. As well, we might have discover’d a synonym for swing in the word eddy):
In fluid dynamics, an eddy is the swirling of a fluid and the reverse current created when the fluid flows past an obstacle. The moving fluid creates a space devoid of downstream-flowing fluid on the downstream side of the object. Fluid behind the obstacle flows into the void creating a swirl of fluid on each edge of the obstacle, followed by a short reverse flow of fluid behind the obstacle flowing upstream, toward the back of the obstacle. This phenomenon is most visible behind large emergent rocks in swift-flowing rivers.
Another possible type of turbulence is the vortex. This notion is now applied to gases, which have the same properties as liquids. Here, no void is created, but only an area of lower pressure, but again, a backflow causes the gas to rotate.
The Kazzrie Jaxen Quartet —- August 24, 2o14 —- photo Mark Weber
Kazzrie formed this band in 2oo9 —— (their first session at Kazzrie’s studio in Callicoon was October 18 one day after Kazzrie’s birthday) —— they session one Saturday a month, it’s an all-day commitment for the members because some of them have long drives — Charley comes over from Garrison NY, and Don drives up from Scotch Plains NJ and meets up with Bill somewhere along the road to leave one vehicle behind and continue on to Callicoon on the Delaware River (see the beautiful photos at kazzriejaxenquartet.com) —– Bill & Fran live near Glen Island Casino, which is a heavy place in the history of jazz, where so many great bands played during the Swing Era, Bill remembers it as where Glenn Miller played and I seem to recall it’s where Jimmy and Tommy Dorsey had their final fight and break-up.
Even the soundcheck was energized with a force of unknown origin — August 24, 2o14 —- You should see Kazzrie’s eyes at times during the set: glazed over and very distant, her usual blue eyes turn pastel —- photo by Mark Weber
So, an eddy could be a way of illustrating the phenomenon of swing: a current moving sideways to the direction of the main current, spinning in a circular motion.
In my poem, which began with one word: teetering — (I built the poem around that one word, while walking along the Hudson River the next day around 25th Street on Manhattan) — teetering is not the swing itself, teetering is teetering. As Kazzrie runs down the melody, riding the swing, adding fire to the swing, her melody line wobbles dangerously over the edge, teetering — she is teasing this, even tempting her own control over the song, Bill & Don are electrifying, Charley is shaking his head and laughing as Kazzrie pushes even further out, wanting to burst out of the song into the wide open skies, porpoises are leaping and twirling, you sitting there have to remind yourself to breathe.
Kazzrie Jaxen Quartet | Sunday Jazz Along the Hudson featuring poet Mark Weber and celebrating the release of “Quaternity”. Sunday August 24, 2014 – 3:00 pm – Howland Cultural Center, 477 Main Street, Beacon – $15 – (845) 831-4988 – www.kazzriejaxenquartet.com
SET LIST: Kazzrie Jaxen Qrt — August 24, 2o14. 1. Out of Nowhere/ 317 E. 32nd Street 2. Melancholy Baby (KJ sang) 3. All the things you are 4. Kazzrie original 5. Mark Weber poem “who forward carries the lamp?” 6. Mark Weber poem “The sky of your mind open and vast” + Lover Man 7. Confirmation in 2nds 8. Lennie’s Pennies 9. Love Me or Leave Me
If you want to play like Lester Young it helps if you have a gentle soul — Charley Krachy is that guy — downtown Beacon NY — 65 miles up the Hudson River from New York City nestled in the rolling forested hills on east side of the river — Named Beacon in commemoration of the signal fires used by the Continental Army during the Revolutionary War set atop the Fishkill Mountains (no cell phones? Oh my . . .) — August 24, 2o14 — photo by Mark Weber
Here’s an email from Don Messina — we had been conversing about the tenor player Mike Cuozzo’s music of the 1950s, which led to telling me about bassist Vinnie Burke:
I love almost — if not every note — played by Vinnie Burke who was the cousin of my best friend from the 1970s. I went to Vinnie’s home in Newark on Water Street around 1975 to meet him and listen to him play in his basement with the top of the bass extending into the living room above. It was quite a sight, comical yet practical, and well — unique!
Vinnie had reel to reel tapes of himself with everyone — Billie, Prez, Tal Farlow, Eddie Costa, Helen Merrill, Joe Puma, Joe Cinderalla, etc. Later, Vinnie moved to Springfield, NJ — where I grew up. He lived around the corner from my in-laws. He would do yoga outside in skimpy bathing trunks, played his bass outside and would curse the barking of the neighbor’s dog. We did duets a few times. Vinnie, at that time played bit with my teacher — Fred Amend (a wonderful teacher and tenor player), Peter Prisco (WOW what a great guitarist — I still play with Peter along with a spectacular young alto player, Chris Aiello). I think when i was going to Vinnie’s in the late 80s/early 90s, he recently did a session with Sal, (Sal commented on him doing head stands during the break, his love of minor blues, and also how well dressed he was for the session) and I think he played some with Lennie. I’m not certain about that but I know Lennie spoke to me about him in 1973 — very humorous stories. I have tapes of Vinnie with Lee Konitz and Jim Hall; Freddie Hubbard, and Rick Moore.
So when I saw the Mike Cuozzo [JazzWax story] I was very interested in hearing more with Vinnie — I love Vinnie’s original sound, that 5 string bass, plucked like no one else in jazz — Vinnie’s solos and bassline still makes him one of very favorites. Melodic! Beautiful!
Oscar Pettiford — is my absolute favorite, then I have a lot of others after that: Vinnie, Red Mitchell (early Red), Jimmy Blanton, Scott LaFaro, Sonny Dallas, Walter Page, NHOP, Dave Holland, Paul Chambers, and then the next tier, and then everyone else. . . .
And I have to tell you that I got chills up and down my arms when we did the first piece with you at the Howland behind your reading of your poem. I’m not a big free player . . . i find the whole thing problematic in so many ways. I need a tune to play on and over and stretch out on . . . HOWEVER, that first poem had me feeling mighty good! INTENSE, the reading and the music was very spontaneous, even beautiful, not chaotic, logical, and always in motion. [Email 9/18/2o14]
Brothers of the Drum ——– Bill Chattin and Kevin Norton meet after the set —- August 24, 2o14 — photo by Mark Weber
Bill’s secondary ride ——— August 24, 2o14 ———- photo by Mark Weber
The great drummer Tox Drohar with his granddaughter Anna Diorio in Switzerland in the mountains near Sion —- July 2o14 —- photo by Jean-Christophe Chouillet — (Tox lives in Sierre, in the Valais of Switzerland, these days)
Here’s a testimonial from Kevin Norton who was there:
It was great seeing you in NYC!
Thanks for being such a great supporter of Connie’s music (in particular) …
It was a busy time for me … I had just recently returned from a summer in Maine and I wanted to really bear down on my vibes and be ready for the Friday set at The Stone … and then I had to bear down for this recording of some really tricky music to be recorded on the following Monday and Tuesday … I felt like going to see Kazzrie’s gig in Beacon was like “playing hooky,” slightly irresponsible because of the approaching recording, but WOW, I’m glad I did … What a fantastic concert! You know, I’ve seen/heard concerts with Dexter Gordon, Johnny Griffin, Thad Jones/Mel Lewis, Betty Carter, Milt Jackson, Bobby Hutcherson, Woody Shaw … on and on … it’s not like I’m talking out of my hat … but that was one of the best jazz concerts I’ve ever heard!
Thanks for playing my music on your radio show!
(especially in such great company!) [Email 8/29/2o14]
The Kazzrie Jaxen Quartet — August 24, 2o14 — photo by Mark Weber —- Charley is pondering this city ordinance regarding “Chicken Keeping Permits” (see Beacon NY government website for details)
This quartet has a long history of playing together going back to the 1970s, as all of them were students of Lennie Tristano and/or Sal Mosca. Charley started out with studies with Lenny Popkin then later with Connie Crothers.
I asked Kazzrie how she never gets lost when she goes outside the form. She says that the song has become so ingrained that she always feels it wherever she’s at. I said that’s kind of like Baroque music, that has several lines going simultaneously. She said Yes I keep all the lines inside.
Letter to Kazzrie Jaxen in NYC from Kenny Clarke in Paris — September 3, 1984 — (Kazzrie was then known by her patronymic Liz Gorrill) — she had met Kenny at a performance in NY in 1980 and exchanged addresses — she had wrote him to say how she had spent the previous year playing almost every day to his ride cymbal on the Warne Marsh-Lee Konitz Atlantic album of June 14, 1955 — transfixed by the ride cymbal just sitting at her piano playing only the one note along with it, and sometimes developing a little figure to go with it, but mostly just the one note over and over — “Topsy,” “There Will Never Be Another You,” “Two Not One,” etc with Oscar Pettiford and Sal Mosca and Billy Bauer (Ronnie Ball sat in on one track).
Kazzrie and her beloved Delaware River that runs through Callicoon NY where she lives ——- August 7, 2o11 ——– photo by Mark Weber