Thursday, April 18, 2013

Connie Crothers

Jazz pianist Connie Corthers (photo by Cheryl Richards)
Next up, I'll be interviewing pianist Connie Crothers for the Women In Jazz book project. The list of musicians she's performed and/or recorded with include master drummer Max Roach, clarinetist Bill Payne, bassist Michael Bisio, bassist Henry Grimes, saxophonist Jemeel Moondoc, saxophonist Warne Marsh, trumpet player Roy Campbell, electroacoustic improviser Ben Manley and many, many others. She is sort of a bridge between a lot of the artists I've already interviewed for the book, in part because of her formidable skill at playing standard repertoire and improvising freely. In a 2006 essay Crothers writes, "Free improvisation and playing from tunes is like a conversation in the creating improvisation opens up creative possibilities that come up naturally during the course of an improvised solo in a tune. On the other hand, free improvisation benefits from an interaction with the connection of form and feeling that you can only get with a great tune."

Much of her recorded work is available through the cooperative label New Artist Records. The video below was shot at Crothers' recent performance at the New York City new music venue Roulette.

I've heard Crothers describe jazz as "an evolving art form," which is such an interesting statement, and a concept I hope to dig into a bit during our interview. Having spoken to 24 musicians and counting for this project, a collective, multifaceted definition of that often contentious word "jazz" has emerged, which is good news for young people just beginning their own musical journeys into the world of improvised music. The evolution Crothers speaks of is happening now, and where this music will be 10, 20, or 50 years from now is anybody's guess. Many things are changing, and changing now, right at this moment. Give Crother's music a listen to get an idea of where we've been, where we're at, and what each of us individually and collectively has the potential to become.

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