The Connie Crothers Residency at The Stone – Part I

Connie Crothers has strong convictions. Add to that a sense of decency and general kindness and you have New York. She’s one of those persons who doesn’t keep a television, probably never has. Has every intention of getting it done, takes care of business, strong work ethic, moves things forward. She’ll wrestle you to the ground over differences of opinion (for years she does not agree with me that one of the central characteristics of jazz is theme & variations). She’s why I jump on an airplane anytime and every time she asks if I’ll join her for a set.

The Stone is volunteer run —- John Zorn books the shows, he called Connie to ask if she’d care to do a week-long Residency, six nights, two sets per night, with the stipulation that she play on every set —- seats about 70? I’m not sure, and with the SRO standing along the walls, it was almost a hundred attendees each night —- Connie not only has a devoted following but it appears people are becoming curious about who she is.

Connie Crothers -------- with TranceFormation -- August 19, 2o14 -- photo by Mark Weber

Connie Crothers ——– with TranceFormation — August 19, 2o14 — photo by Mark Weber

Connie at the Piano

….prism, prismatic
phrases broken loose from the song
….block chords laid in, then abruptly
……..dampen’d with pedal where a long
…………..single-line in right hand (or left)
…………………..emerges, emanates, dissappears into
…………………………clusters and swipes that
……………………………….build up into more block chords
…………………………………….more splashes, more
…………………………corruscating lines
…………………………swirling elongated
elaborate, lyrical, pushing their way out
of the thunder of continuous block chords
torrents, rocking the piano, Connie rocking
and swaying flowing with the tumult
completely at ease with such swirling energy
pouring on more and more . . . .

The Connie Crothers Quartet ---- August 23, 2o14 --- Roger Mancuso, drums; Ken Filiano, bass; Richard Tabnik, alto saxophone ---- photo by Mark Weber

The Connie Crothers Quartet —- August 23, 2o14 — Roger Mancuso, drums; Ken Filiano, bass; Richard Tabnik, alto saxophone —- photo by Mark Weber

We were walking down Amsterdam Avenue
heading toward a Mexican seafood restaurant
………….that Carol suggested (she and Virg and Eva would
meet us there)
it was our post-jam-session food thing
with just enough time to eat and make it to The Stone
to catch Connie’s second night of her six-night residency.

— New York always elevates your brain —

Someone asked why these digital cameras nonsensically
still make that shutter noise (curtains, mirror, shutter) that
the old SLR cameras made?

Asking the immortal question: Why can’t they just be quiet?

And without missing a beat, Will Jhun said, “Oh, that’s a feature.”

Yes, in the future we’ll have to buy Quiet.

I remember I was living in San Francisco in the mid-70s when
I spied my first bottled water for sale (Calistoga)
I laughed (everybody in Frisco was broke in those days
who could afford water?) at the same time
I was mystified —— why pay for something that
you can get out of the tap?

Little did I know, grasshopper.

Now they say there’s a dumping
ground in the Pacific Ocean the size of Texas full of empty
plastic water bottles.

Judging by how noisy things have gotten in general
they’ll probably have to shoot you into outer space
(for a price) to get that Quiet.

Quintet with Nick Lyons, alto, and Lorenzo Sanguedolce, tenor; Pete Swanson, bass; Todd Capp, drums;  Connie Crothers, piano ----  August 19, 2o14 --  all spontaneous music,  CC would merely say before  a piece "ballad," or "mid-tempo,"  or nothing, and the only composition they played, my favorite "Ontology,"  and I believe the blues they played was a CC original ---- for the horns to play this well they have to trust  each other, during counterpoint you cannot second-guess your partner, you have to steam ahead, their  first notes played simultaneously were amazing, and it just rolled out after that like hot butter -- photo by Mark Weber

Quintet with Nick Lyons, alto, and Lorenzo Sanguedolce, tenor; Pete Swanson, bass; Todd Capp, drums; Connie Crothers, piano —- August 19, 2o14 — all spontaneous music, CC would merely say before a piece “ballad,” or “mid-tempo,” or nothing, and the only composition they played, my favorite “Ontology,” and I believe the blues they played was a CC original —- for the horns to play this well they have to trust each other, during counterpoint you cannot second-guess your partner, you have to steam ahead, their first notes played simultaneously were amazing, and it just rolled out after that like hot butter — photo by Mark Weber

Poem For Nick

Let’s do a little math
shake out some numbers
33883 minus 33536 equals 347
add 48 choruses
trade some twos and fours
Go out and count the ants on the ant hill
dig around and find the blue rocks
Take those over to the altar of the song
……floating in space like a late-summer hummingbird
……pondering a pansy

pondering the air
pondering the southern migration that is soon to come
riding the upper currents following the Rio
while 347 saxophonists play for them
while the drummers take the ride cymbal eternal
these luminous-winged hummingbirds
……full of sugar and nectar energy
take another chorus, circle and dodge
and are gone: Gone With the Wind

TranceFormation ----- after the set ---- Ken Filiano, bass; Andrea Wolper, vocal; Connie Crothers, piano --  August 19, 2o14 at The Stone --- photo by Mark Weber ---- Where does the spirit of music come from?  This trio ventures back to the source and dives in ---- entirely spontaneous, always chimerical, like  eavesdropping on the subconscious, rayjoolagator yaydown electrum fosh iglee, into unknown territory,  wide-open at the same time micro-faceted

TranceFormation —– after the set —- Ken Filiano, bass; Andrea Wolper, vocal; Connie Crothers, piano — August 19, 2o14 at The Stone — photo by Mark Weber —- Where does the spirit of music come from? This trio ventures back to the source and dives in —- entirely spontaneous, always chimerical, like eavesdropping on the subconscious, rayjoolagator yaydown electrum fosh iglee, into unknown territory, wide-open at the same time micro-faceted

TranceFormation -------- after the set ------- August 19, 2o14 -------  photo by MarkWeber ---- It's dark  inside the Stone, takes a few minutes for your eyes to adjust ---- I'm shooting Tri-X with my  antique cameras, one is an SLR (Fujica ST-701) and the other is a rangefinder (Olympus 35-RC) two  phenomenal cameras from 1976/1974 ---- this trio was the first set of 12 sets total over six nights  of Connie in a variety contrasts

TranceFormation ——– after the set ——- August 19, 2o14 ——- photo by Mark Weber —- It’s dark inside the Stone, takes a few minutes for your eyes to adjust —- I’m shooting Tri-X with my antique cameras, one is an SLR (Fujica ST-701) and the other is a rangefinder (Olympus 35-RC) two phenomenal cameras from 1976/1974 —- this trio was the first set of 12 sets total over six nights of Connie in a variety contrasts

Trio on second night, first set:  Connie Crothers, piano; Henry Grimes, bass & violin; Jameel Moondoc, alto saxophone ------ August 20, 2o14 ---- photo by Mark Weber ---- Henry's ability to walk outside changes  is astounding ---- they played one long improvisation, at least, I don't remember them stopping, we'll  have to see what the recording reveals ----- Henry only broke into walking a couple times during the set,  but when he did and knocked out those little skipping triplets to kick it along, it just slayed us, he floats  in and out of time  (I asked Bobby Bradford if triplets was best way to describe this thing and he said  yes,  but if you wrote the 3 notes on a beam you'd erase the middle one).

Trio on second night, first set: Connie Crothers, piano; Henry Grimes, bass & violin; Jameel Moondoc, alto saxophone —— August 20, 2o14 —- photo by Mark Weber —- Henry’s ability to walk outside changes is astounding —- they played one long improvisation, at least, I don’t remember them stopping, we’ll have to see what the recording reveals —– Henry only broke into walking a couple times during the set, but when he did and knocked out those little skipping triplets to kick it along, it just slayed us, he floats in and out of time (I asked Bobby Bradford if triplets was best way to describe this thing and he said yes, but if you wrote the 3 notes on a beam you’d erase the middle one).

Adam Caine, guitar; Federico Ughi, drumset; Ken Filiano, bass; with Connie  at piano ---- August 20, 2o14 on the second night of the Residency ---- photo by Mark Weber ----  (I called Ken "the secret hero of these sessions" ---- Richard Tabnik calls him "Dr Exactly"  because of his proclivity to underscore something you've just said by saying "Exactly!")

Adam Caine, guitar; Federico Ughi, drumset; Ken Filiano, bass; with Connie at piano —- August 20, 2o14 on the second night of the Residency —- photo by Mark Weber —- (I called Ken “the secret hero of these sessions” —- Richard Tabnik calls him “Dr Exactly” because of his proclivity to underscore something you’ve just said by saying “Exactly!”)

Alexis Parsons sat in with CC, Adam, Federico, and Ken, and took us out into the many vistas of "Wild is the Wind" ---- August 20, 2o14 ---- photo by Mark Weber

Alexis Parsons sat in with CC, Adam, Federico, and Ken, and took us out into the many vistas of “Wild is the Wind” —- August 20, 2o14 —- photo by Mark Weber

Tuesday, August 19

8:00 | Andrea Wolper – voice | Ken Filiano – bass (TranceFormation)| Connie Crothers – piano

10:00 | Lorenzo Sanguedolce – tenor sax | Nick Lyons – alto sax | Pete Swanson – bass | Todd Capp – drums | Connie Crothers – piano

Wednesday, August 20

8:00 | Jemeel Moondoc – alto sax | Henry Grimes, bass – violin | Connie Crothers, piano

10:00 | Adam Caine – guitar | Ken Filiano – bass | Federico Ughi – drums | Alexis Parsons – voice | Connie Crothers – piano

Thursday, August 21

8:00 | Jessica Jones – tenor sax | Connie Crothers – piano

10:00 | Louie Belogenis – tenor sax | Ken Filiano – bass | Michael Wimberley – drums| Connie Crothers – piano

Friday, August 22

8:00 | Kevin Norton, vibes – percussion | Ed Schuller – bass | Roger Mancuso – drums | Connie Crothers – piano

10:00 | Eva Lindal – violin | Tomas Ulrich – cello | Michael Bisio – bass | Connie Crothers – piano

The intensity during this set was off the map ---- a string quartet: Eva Lindal, violin; Tomas Ulrich, cello; Michael Bisio, bass; Connie Crothers, piano ---- originally, clarinetist Bill Payne was to join this set but that would have pushed us over the top, Bill was stuck in Vegas ---- Eva's concentration puts me to shame, I only wish I could concentrate half as much as she does ---- this music was beyond possibilities, the intensity (psychic intensity, not histrionic loud intensity) it showed all the possibilities available in free improvisation -- they did one long piece -- August 22, 2o14 -- photo by Mark Weber

The intensity during this set was off the map —- a string quartet: Eva Lindal, violin; Tomas Ulrich, cello; Michael Bisio, bass; Connie Crothers, piano —- originally, clarinetist Bill Payne was to join this set but that would have pushed us over the top, Bill was stuck in Vegas —- Eva’s concentration puts me to shame, I only wish I could concentrate half as much as she does —- this music was beyond possibilities, the intensity (psychic intensity, not histrionic loud intensity) it showed all the possibilities available in free improvisation — they did one long piece — August 22, 2o14 — photo by Mark Weber

Saturday, August 23

8:00 | Richard Tabnik – alto sax | Ken Filiano – bass | Roger Mancuso – drums | Mark Weber – poet | Connie Crothers – piano

10:00 | Richard Tabnik – alto sax | Ken Filiano – bass | Roger Mancuso – drums | Connie Crothers – piano

Sunday, August 24

8:00 | Pauline Oliveros – accordion and electronics | Connie Crothers – piano

10:00 | Cheryl Richards – voice | Connie Crothers – piano

Ken Filiano and saxophonist Will Connell after the TranceFormation set ---- August 19, 2o14 -- photo by Mark Weber

Ken Filiano and saxophonist Will Connell after the TranceFormation set —- August 19, 2o14 — photo by Mark Weber

Scott Friedlander, stage manager for The Stone, and photographer extraordinaire ---- August 24, 2o14 ----  I think we were wrapping up, after the last set of Connie's Residency -- photo by Mark Weber

Scott Friedlander, stage manager for The Stone, and photographer extraordinaire —- August 24, 2o14 —- I think we were wrapping up, after the last set of Connie’s Residency — photo by Mark Weber

Ben Manley, recording engineer -- (August 20, 2o14) ---- in this spot by the front door every night  of Connie's Residency doing the valuable work of catching the sounds for the sonic archives -- photo  by Mark Weber (I flashed him because it was way dark where he was working)

Ben Manley, recording engineer — (August 20, 2o14) —- in this spot by the front door every night of Connie’s Residency doing the valuable work of catching the sounds for the sonic archives — photo by Mark Weber (I flashed him because it was way dark where he was working)

By chance, Peter Ind's recording studio-loft (1960) is only a half block away from The Stone ----  The Stone is on 2nd Street at Avenue C on the Lower East Side --------  the studio where Peter Ind  recorded many sessions with Lee Konitz; Sheila Jordan's first recording session; and Warne Marsh's  immortal albums RELEASE RECORD, SEND TAPE and MORE JAZZ FROM THE EAST VILLAGE is top floor of 223 E. 2nd Street between Avenues B and C, directly across the street from FDNY Engine Company 28 --- photo by Mark Weber -- August 19, 2o14

By chance, Peter Ind’s recording studio-loft (1960) is only a half block away from The Stone —- The Stone is on 2nd Street at Avenue C on the Lower East Side ——– the studio where Peter Ind recorded many sessions with Lee Konitz; Sheila Jordan’s first recording session; and Warne Marsh’s immortal albums RELEASE RECORD, SEND TAPE and MORE JAZZ FROM THE EAST VILLAGE is top floor of 223 E. 2nd Street between Avenues B and C, directly across the street from FDNY Engine Company 28 — photo by Mark Weber — August 19, 2o14

8 Comments

  1. Wow, these posts are making me a wee bit jealous. So happy to read them and your fine writing and the chance to listen to Connie’s group in the last post – she just explodes. Traditional music at it’s best! That’s what I like about the internet, the chance to share in these experiences and still be here in our lovely Silver City.

  2. I can feel the intensity of the music in your great photographs. The one with Connie and Jameel Moondoc. and Alexis Parsons really stand out. Are you still using film?

  3. Love love love these poems for Connie and Nick, Mark! And the beautiful photos and write ups as well, of course, but these poems!

  4. Digging your poems and photos Mark. I wish I could have been there, but I get a real sense of the experience through your account of it.

  5. To Kenneth,

    Hi – I can’t help asking what you mean by “traditional” music.

    Carol

  6. Carol, I have been playing traditional American Folk music for over 50 years – at the same time listening to Jazz and lots of other world music. I hear enough roots in all of this music to the point where it seems to all fit in the category of ‘traditional.’ I also hear lots of improvisation in almost all music, maybe not as obvious as in Jazz but it is there, in changes in bowing on he fiddle, modal changes while playing a tune, rhythm changes that, if there are dancers, will make the dancers dance differently. There are some folks who never change the way they play a tune but the more respected ones do it all the time, some more subtly than others, but it’s there. Sometimes a fiddle player or banjo player will get in our car and I’ll have a cd of one of Mark’s show on and the fiddler will ask, “What the hell is that?” and I respond, “It’s the same thing you play, but different!” So that’s the best I can come up with in a short time like this. Musician’s can always add more notes or take more out, change the mood by flatting or sharpening a note, coming in a little sooner or later, letting a space speak for the melody. I love it all, that traditional music that started so long ago and whose roots are always there to hear if you listen.
    Ken

  7. Hi Kenneth,
    Thank you for responding. Your answer makes my mind spin in a lot of directions at once. It reminded me of something the great drummer Jo Jones said about music – “There’s nothing new under the sun”. I can’t say I agree with that, but I do get where it’s coming from. On the one hand, music is music, and we’re all influenced by many sources, but personally I am attached to the word jazz. But that doesn’t mean that every person who calls themselves a jazz musician is actually expressing something true to jazz feeling. That is a whole other subject. For me, when jazz happened on the scene it brought with it the gift of pure improvisation coming from swing. And then free improvisation coming from “intuition” – which is, by the way, what Lennie Tristano called it when he and his band were doing it. Today we have many branches of music coming from all this, but I will assert that there are relatively few expressing the true evolution of this. These are my subjective thoughts! I do think that Connie brings together many types of musicians, so I can get why you would feel it as traditional. I realize that’s a positive thing. Connie is one of our true jazz sources (and notably for free playing) which I believe is why everyone wants to play with her! I appreciate where you’re coming from and I’m looking forward to knowing more about your life and music.

  8. Rest In Peace:
    Will Connell died November 18 in hospital ——— I didnt know him but I see we were connected through our devotion to Horace Tapscott music of which he was to perform during his upcoming residency at The Stone (December 23-28) that is to include Connie Crothers (the event will continue in Will Connell’s memory)

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