The World Of Connie Crothers

Connie Crothers playing my piano at Studio 725 Albuquerque -- March 25, 2001 -- photo by Mark Weber

Connie Crothers playing my piano at Studio 725 Albuquerque — March 25, 2001 — photo by Mark Weber

The Thursday Jazz Radio Show

September 8, 2o16 Jazz @ Noon every Thursday (starts at 12:07 after the satellite news) Host MARK WEBER KUNM Albuquerque, USA 89.9 FM (Mountain Standard Time) also streaming on the web KUNM.org Current time zone offset: UTC*/GMT -6 hours (*Coordinated Universal Time)/Greenwich Mean Time)

THE WORLD OF CONNIE CROTHERS

Today we’ll pay tribute to a person who gave her all to music. Connie never backed away from the edge, she always jumped right in. The deep end. We could use more bravery like that in this world.

Connie Crothers was teacher, friend, ally, and advocate to so many over the years. Today we’ll not only spin some of Connie’s music but also the music of her “associates” (a term she preferred).

Connie was one of those New Yorkers that read books (she was a refusenik as regards television — never had one), went to art galleries regularly (she had many artist friends, one time when I was there she was on the telephone with sculptor Deborah Masters), poetry readings (she attended a Theodore Roethke reading during her Berkeley days “it left a powerful impression”), films occasionally (I remember her and Max were big on that documentary about some tagger/graffiti activist), her evenings (when not teaching her three days out of the week) were always out on the town either playing, jamming, sitting in, or bearing witness. Her last years were a flurry of new musical associations performing with New York (and Detroit) free jazzers of every stripe while always keeping weekly rehearsals with her quartet.

Connie Crothers (May 2, 1941 – August 13, 2o16)

This session is at Connie's studio in Williamsburg after we had spent all afternoon at Sal's in Mt Vernon, riding the train up & back, and she still played all night -- December 4, 2004 -- photo by Mark Weber (that's Richard Tabnik on alto saxophone)

This session is at Connie’s studio in Williamsburg after we had spent all afternoon at Sal’s in Mt Vernon, riding the train up & back, and she still played all night — December 4, 2004 — photo by Mark Weber (that’s Richard Tabnik on alto saxophone)

Connie Crothers and Kazzrie Jaxen -- September 18, 2005 Williamsburg -- photo by Mark Weber

Connie Crothers and Kazzrie Jaxen — September 18, 2005 Williamsburg — photo by Mark Weber

Jam session at Connie's: Ed Schuller, bass; Roger Mancuso, drums; Connie Crothers, piano -- August 24, 2o12 -- photo by Mark Weber -- Roger first met Connie in Greenwich Village early 60s at a club where Lennie was playing, he is on her first album PERCEPTION (1974) which at the time of it's re-release on the Inner City label I was the Los Angeles correspondent for CODA and that magazine had all the writers list their favorite records and in 1980 I put that record at the top of my list, it just blew me away. It wasn't till sixteen years later that I got acquainted with Connie.

Jam session at Connie’s: Ed Schuller, bass; Roger Mancuso, drums; Connie Crothers, piano — August 24, 2o12 — photo by Mark Weber — Roger first met Connie in Greenwich Village early 60s at a club where Lennie was playing, he is on her first album PERCEPTION (1974) which at the time of it’s re-release on the Inner City label I was the Los Angeles correspondent for CODA and that magazine had all the writers list their favorite records and in 1980 I put that record at the top of my list, it just blew me away. It wasn’t till sixteen years later that I got acquainted with Connie.

Connie Crothers & Roger Mancuso -- We're in the NYC subway system going somewhere I forgot where -- December 5, 2004 -- photo by Mark Weber -- I have a notebook entry that says CC could be mercurial, which given the dimensions (one of her favorite words) and interweavings of her life is not hard to believe -- One time on the telephone I was remonstrating over some issue with a poem I was endeavoring to breath life into and beating myself up she said, "Mark, as long as it's real" -- which has been a touchstone for me ever since . . . .

Connie Crothers & Roger Mancuso — We’re in the NYC subway system going somewhere I forgot where — December 5, 2004 — photo by Mark Weber — I have a notebook entry that says CC could be mercurial, which given the dimensions (one of her favorite words) and interweavings of her life is not hard to believe — One time on the telephone I was remonstrating over some issue with a poem I was endeavoring to breath life into and beating myself up she said, “Mark, as long as it’s real” — which has been a touchstone for me ever since . . . .

[untitled poem]

She was a water person
She must have been an ancient mariner
Never far from the ocean
As a child playing with paper boats in the puddles

Connie was born on coastal California
within sight of the wide Pacific
spent many years growing up near the San Francisco Bay
Set her sails (took a train) for NYC 1962
and spent her entire life then surrounded
by the giant rivers flowing into the Atlantic

Song for a Seagull comes to mind, sung by Andrea
She adapted to city life
told me in the early years you couldn’t find a good cup
…………………….of coffee, the food in restaurants
not much better —

She took work as a typesetter
and studied piano with Lennie
Water is turbulence and placidity
Water is everything
Water is solid, if you approach it too fast
…..it solidifies into a barrier

You could say the piano is a boat
but what if the piano is really the ocean?
Then the pianist would be a sailfish or a Manta ray
surging with the sea tides

We called ourselves the Warne Marsh Appreciation Society -- That's Janet & my kitchen and the tile job I did, you like? Left to right: Richard Tabnik, Roger Mancuso, Connie Crothers, David Parlato, Janet Simon -- March 25, 2001 -- photo by Mark Weber -- They were in town for a concert at the Outpost

We called ourselves the Warne Marsh Appreciation Society — That’s Janet & my kitchen and the tile job I did, you like? Left to right: Richard Tabnik, Roger Mancuso, Connie Crothers, David Parlato, Janet Simon — March 25, 2001 — photo by Mark Weber — They were in town for a concert at the Outpost.

Connie took this photo of me watching Sal Mosca play piano in his studio -- December 4, 2004 -- Mt Vernon, NY

Connie took this photo of me watching Sal Mosca play piano in his studio — December 4, 2004 — Mt Vernon, NY

23 Comments

  1. Pisces myself. Another in the WMarsh Appreciation Society. Warne once said to me….”Strive to play something new….” Never will forget that man…..Bravo for another compelling post.

  2. On this radio show I’ll also be airing excerpts of interview/conversations I’ve had over the years with CC.

  3. I think it’s a beautiful tribute your doing for a fantastic musician and beyond beautiful woman….Connie Crothers. Thank you so much Mark for keeping all this wonderful music and these incredible musicians alive thru their deep felt music. Sheila Jordan.

  4. I too am a Pisces. “Water is everything”

  5. joan jobe smith voss

    September 6, 2016 at 6:45 pm

    love the pix… what a fine looking woman Connie was… happy and serene, all-knowing caressing her face.. thank you, Mark, for honoring her, telling about her talent and style…

  6. Monsieur K.

    September 6, 2016 at 6:59 pm

    On Hearing Of A Death

    We lack all knowledge of this parting. Death
    does not deal with us. We have no reason
    to show death admiration, love or hate;
    his mask of feigned tragic lament gives us

    a false impression. The world’s stage is still
    filled with roles which we play. While we worry
    that our performances may not please,
    death also performs, although to no applause.

    But as you left us, there broke upon this stage
    a glimpse of reality, shown through the slight
    opening through which you dissapeared: green,
    evergreen, bathed in sunlight, actual woods.

    We keep on playiing, still anxious, our difficult roles
    declaiming, accompanied by matching gestures
    as required. But your presence so suddenly
    removed from our midst and from our play, at times

    overcomes us like a sense of that other
    reality: yours, that we are so overwhelmed
    and play our actual lives instead of the performance,
    forgetting altogehter the applause. — by Rainer Maria Rilke ( Translated by Albert Ernest Flemming )

    • Thank you, Monsieur K. The words you wrote struck me deeply, and then I saw it was by one of my all-time favorite authors, Rilke. Connie embodied those words! I studied with her for TEN (!) years after Lennie passed (I studied with Lennie for three) and I’m still looking for closure. This helps. Thank you~

  7. What a beautiful tribute to an extraordinary artist, Mark. She has been a living symbol of sonic beauty and creative integrity to me for many years. One of the few people in the world that I wished I had had the opportunity, wisdom and means to study with. I’m happy you had the chance to know her and make music with her. Thanks for this.

  8. a beautiful post for an amazing artist, teacher and friend… words fail me… i miss her so… she was the greatest in every way… (we had some gigs booked for this autumn…) the space left by her passing can never be filled… yet she lives on thru her music and the many people whose lives she enriched… no one more so than mine…

  9. A beautiful tribute to a beautiful woman. Thank you, Mark!

  10. * Klaus, coincidentally, the very day you posted the Rilke poem I had been reading Rilke and comparing translations, having found these new versions translated by Joanna Macy to be intriguing, although very loosely fitted.

    In the pre-production preparations for this show I was frustrated in that I was not going to be able to include everything that I wanted. I looked at the thing from several different angles and still couldn’t figure how it was going to work. When I was a house builder I learned to let certain problems of carpentry be solved by sleeping on it. The brain will solve the problem for you while you sleep and the next day it’s as plain as butter on toast. This morning I woke up in bed and nearly the first thought was: Why not just extend the Connie Tribute into two shows? Problem solved.

    ———————————————playlist———————————————
    CONNIE CROTHERS TRIBUTE SHOW
    September 8, 2o16
    KUNM Albuquerque
    Host MARK WEBER

    1. Connie Crothers – Lenny Popkin Quartet w/Carol Tristano & Cameron Brown “Beyond a Dream” cd JAZZ SPRING (New Artists Records) –26march93—–a floating lighter than a feather sound that eases along at a smoking clip ————- song built on the chords to “All the things you are” (thanks to Richard Tabnik for helping verify this contrafact)
    2. Interview excerpt CC & MW radio interview from 20january2000 re: the following track
    3. Connie Crothers Trio w/Roger Mancuso & Joe Solomon “Hillside Avenue” where Connie lived in Jamaica, Queens, NYC at the time of this recording — 1974 — album PERCEPTION
    4. Interview excerpt — 20jan2000
    5. Connie Crothers – Lenny Popkin Quartet “Soul in Minor” — 1988 cd LOVE ENERGY — this band stayed together about ten years and made 5 records between 1988 & 1996
    6. Connie Crothers Quartet w/Richard Tabnik, Roger Mancuso, Sean Smith “Bird’s Word” furious blazing smoking ——- 1999 cd ONTOLOGY (New Artists)
    7. Interview excerpt — 20jan2000 re: “Requiem” that follows
    8. Lennie Tristano solo “Requiem” — 1955 (Atlantic) album LENNIE TRISTANO
    9. Interview excerpt regarding singing along with iconic solos of the masters—–20jan2000
    10. Lynn Anderson “Embraceable You” —–28jan79 box set LENNIE TRISTANO MEMORIAL CONCERT she’s singing along with Charlie Parker recording of Oct.28, 1947
    11. Bill Payne & Connie Crothers “The Desert and the City” –Oct.2006 cd CONVERSATIONS (New Artists)
    12. Carol Liebowitz & Lorenzo Sanguedolce (piano & tenor sax) “Ontology” Connie’s masterpiece —2010 home recording
    13. Connie Crothers & Jessica Jones (piano & tenor sax) “There will never be another you” –10aug2o11 cd LIVE AT THE FREIGHT —– that’s Freight & Salvage Coffeeshop in Berkeley California
    14. Excerpt from interview re: boogie woogie —-20jan2000
    15. Andrea Wolper “Song to a Seagull”(Joni’s song) —-2011 cd PARALLEL LIVES
    16. Excerpt from conversation CC & MW 4may2008 on 113th Street at Barbara & Paula’s apartment
    17. Kevin Norton & Connie Crothers “It’s Components Are Now Regarded” –10sept2006 cd KINGSTON TONE ROADS (I have it on CDR but it’s only available as a download) recorded in Kingston NY (vibes & piano) **Thanks to Steve Schmidt at Fly on the Wall Studios, Santa Fe, who donated his time & engineering in Connie’s honor
    *** This radio show will be up on the KUNM.org archive for two weeks

  11. What a beautiful show! Am listening via the archives – Out of Nowhere from Perception was just playing – what a revolutionary pianist!!!! Of course we all know this about Connie Crothers, one of the world’s true innovators. Mark – I’m loving hearing Connie talk interspersed with the music – soul melting. Thank you for this and for this blog with your beautiful photos and heart felt poetry. I am very touched to be part of this show via the music. Being in that band with Connie and Lenny was my upbringing and an unimaginable honor.

  12. Hey Mark I just have to express something here. You played Lynn Anderson’s glorious singing with Bird on Embraceable You from the L.T. Memorial concert. I want to mention that Lennie was so moved by her incredible singing with Bird that he asked her to do that at the concerts he presented her in at his home. That is one of the reasons she did that at the memorial concert.
    Now, as one of the owners of Jazz Records and one of the people who worked on that album, I have to tell you that I found your editing of it to be very distracting. One of the things that makes that a masterpiece is Lynn’s vocal match with Bird – the delay takes away from that in my opinion. Personally I think it’s a great recording. I believe Lenny Popkin is the recording engineer on that. Also, that concert was co-produced by Connie and Lenny Popkin. It was a tremendous accomplishment which I witnessed!

  13. Yes, let’s talk about that track, Carol, I suppose the best I could say about it is that it was an experiment that went awry. Others asked about my mix as well. Here’s what I wrote Carol Liebowitz yesterday:

    >No, my mix is a mess.
    The weird thing is me & Quincy worked on that to get it right. So, for whatever reason the overlap of Bird onto the track (to reinforce the MEMORIAL CONCERT version which is low) just doesn’t fit. Now, on the radio show I had headphones on and in the left is the Bird track and the right is Lynn, which is kinda cool. And I remember we jiggered the Bird to fit, really worked on it, because the two arent running at the same speed (Lynn’s record player might have been slow by a smidge). Well, it wasn’t good. But, it was interesting. I’ve been sitting on that job me & Quincy did for ten years to play on radio . . . . . .<

    This was Charlie Parker Quintet of October 28, 1947 recording in the studio for Dial.

    Lynn Anderson sings solo for six songs on the MEMORIAL CONCERT (where is Lynn these days?)

    For my part it was an honest attempt — I see the mix session with Quincy was July 17, 2007, a mere 5 months before Quincy passed away from cancer himself, in his early 50s. I should have listened more closely to the track before I took it to the radio station, I just assumed that it was A-okay because anything associated with Quincy was always top shelf. But it was my session and my misfire. What we found out was the turntable Lynn used and our turntable at Q Studios were not going at the same speed (actually we used the CD version of the Bird track) and so we had to jigger the track here and there moving it backwards or forwards to match Lynn. ALSO, once I had headphones on at the station I found out that we decided to put Bird in the left side and Lynn on the right. Very interesting but huge amount of phase going on. I wish I had not played it over the airwaves. Maybe next week I'll play the unadulterated version.

    Quincy worked with Connie on the first duet record of Bill Payne & Connie. Quincy was amazing, the first time I brought some tapes to him that I had recorded in Connie's studio, he listened and said: There's a big glass window in that room isn't there? Right on the money (Connie's western-facing window covered the entire wall). He also complimented Connie by saying her engineering on the duet recording was spot on (he also told CC that she needed to have her Neumann mikes re-capped — she was astonished, to use a frequent word from her vocabulary, and asked "Quincy,how can you tell that?") The only thing Quincy did to the duet recordings was soften the pedal ever so slightly. He was a great hands-off engineer and felt no ego need to get into the recordings and add any other processing, not even EQ. Connie nailed that one. She and Quincy became quite close and she spoke with him over the telephone on his death bed. All of it so sad. He was my right-hand man for 14 years, always with me in sessions and concerts coordinating the sound, and even on some radio shows when I had live music. I spread a small amount of his ashes outside the window of the KUNM control room.

    Now, the Lynn version as it stands on the LP version is absolutely perfect, I think it's best that her voice predominates. I just now listened to it. I have to surmise that me & Q realized it was not working, but in the intervening years I had forgotten that. We were workshopping.

  14. Thank you for explaining all that Mark.

  15. It’s a frustrating proposition trying to cover as much ground as I wanted with this show. You just run out of time. One of the major players I missed was Andy Fite (who gets regular airplay on Thursdays), but also other friends of Connie’s like Gary Levy, Ken Filiano, Bob Casanova, Will Jhun, Bud Tristano, Linda Satin, Ted Brown’s daughter Anita Brown, the TRANCEformation cd, and Carol Tristano’s solo drum cd, and the duet records CC made with Roger Mancuso, and Max Roach, and the phenomenal new cd from Sheila Jordan on tour in Europe 2014 with Lines For Ladies. I also had “Deep Friendship” picked out from her quartet w/Roger Mancuso, Richard Tabnik, and Ratzo Harris, but the clock caught up with me, or the same great quartet with Ken Filiano. I was hoping Maryanne de Prophetis’ new cd TELL A STAR would be here in time for this show, and of course, when I got home from radio show the mailman had brought it.

    ————————–playlist——————————-
    THE WORLD OF CONNIE CROTHERS Part 2
    September 15, 2o16
    KUNM Albuquerque
    Host MARK WEBER

    1. Connie solo “Precious Life” –12apr96 cd MUSIC FROM EVERYDAY LIFE (New Artists) *I always imagine Connie recording these tracks while waiting for students to arrive — a collection of afternoon ruminations done over a three year period in her studio on East 9th Street
    2. Conversation CC & MW — 4may2008 — excerpt #3
    3. Connie Crothers-Lenny Popkin Quartet w/Carol Tristano & Cameron Brown “Love Energy” –April 1988 from cd LOVE ENERGY (New Artists)
    4. Conversation 4may2008 excerpt #4
    5. Nick Lyons Trio w/Cal Haines(drums) & Colin Deuble (bass) “Bird’s Word”(Connie Crothers) recorded 31may2o13 at Studio 725
    6. Conversation 4may2008 excerpt #5
    7. Payne Lindal Liebowitz Trio — track 1 — 11june2o12
    8. Interview 20jan2000 excerpt #17
    9. Charley Krachy “Track 42” –4march2003 cd JAZZMAN’S SERENADE
    10. Interveiew w/CC 20jan2008 excerpt #6 regarding Lennie Tristano
    11. Lennie Tristano “Turkish Mambo” 1960-1962 (Atlantic)
    12. Interview 20jan2000 excerpt #12
    13. Kazzrie Jaxen “Shine the Warrior’s Heart” –2003– cd PRAYERS AND MAD LAUGHTER (KJ Records) — it says in the notes “Two Pianos multi-tracked” (which is kinda ambiguous if you think about it) I swear I hear three pianos (ie. one piano + two overdubbed piano parts)
    14. Interview 20jan2000 excerpt #10 re: over-dubbing
    15. Lynn Anderson solo voice “Embraceable You” w/Bird’s version Live on stage at Town Hall NYC from 5-Lp box set THE LENNIE TRISTANO MEMORIAL CONCERT — 28jan79
    16. Cheryl Richards & Adam Caine “If I Had You” — Dec.2o12 w/ additional lyrics by Virg Dzurinko cd IF NOT FOR YOU (New Artists)
    17. Alexis Parsons & Connie “Listen” — Dec.2009 — cd HIPPIN’ (New Aritsts Records)
    18. Virg Dzurinko & Ryan Messina “There will never be another you” piano + trumpet –2dec15 cd UNDERTOW (New Artists)
    19. Jan Leder (flute) “Bebop Papi” — May 1999 cd NONCHALANT (A-Records)
    20. Interview 20jan2000 excerpt #4 regarding chords
    21. Connie Crothers-Lenny Popkin Quartet “Time Step” –26march93 from cd JAZZ SPRING (New Artists)

    *All dates refer to recording date

  16. I’m listening to the Part 2 archive now. You’ve taken a very cool approach to honoring Connie, playing not only her own music, but also that of people she influenced, and you cover a lot of ground, wow! I think she’d approve. And of course I love hearing her music and her voice and thoughts. I’m so glad you recorded these conversations. I think you’re going to have to add week 3, or a monthly World Of Connie Crothers show because, you’re right, there’s too little time and too much music. “Band of Fire,” Virg’s “Fun City,” Bob Casanova (as you mentioned) to name just a few. Connie!! Thanks for doing these shows, Mark.

  17. I have at least three more additional telephone interviews with Connie (I only used two on the these shows, so
    I’ve used them up) ——— I’ll need to get Steve Schmidt to help me edit the other 3 down into excerpts ———-AND
    yes, another show on The World of Connie Crothers, very soon

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