Connie Crothers | Concert in Paris | NA1059

Connie Crothers – piano

Producer: Connie Crothers. Concert producer: Noah Rosen. Concert and recording: Z’Avant Garde Performance Space, Paris, October 30, 2011. Recording, mixing and mastering engineer: Jean-Marc Foussat. Additional editing and master preparation: Nick Prout. Design: Cheryl Richards. Photography: Brigitte Verne. Special thanks: Anna Popkin

Tracklist: 1. Deuxième Naissance [11:45] 2. Dans Mes Réves [10:40] 3. “Every Emotion Is An Art” – Anna [9:26] 4. Homage Aux Communards [14:35] 5. Espoir [10:37]


There I was, doing a solo concert in Paris for the first time.

It was almost like a dream. It brought me back to the summer of 1959, when I was eighteen, in Paris for the first time, attending a field studies course in European church architecture. The course lasted a week, but I stayed there for another month.– Connie Crothers

For Connie Crothers, this concert is as much a point of definition

as was that formative trip to Paris. “I knew nothing of the Paris scene,” she remembers, “and nothing about the people with whom I might resonate. All I could do was walk, and look, and feel.” What Connie felt was miraculous; as the first stretch’s title reveals, she experienced a second birth. “Up to that time, I had been saturated with the lower middle-class sensibility of a small-town suburban California existence. When I went to Paris; That all exploded. I could be myself as I never could before, or maybe I could say my “self” was made tangible, and though I didn’t know it at the time, that initial voyage laid the groundwork for what my life would become.”

Dreams permeate this music, agile and fleeting, redrawing the boundaries of memory and experience in intuition, bathing past, present and future in the strong, certain and sometimes wistful illumination afforded by introspection. The young dream of the musician and aspiring composer, not yet an improviser, nearly penniless, alive and wide open to the many pleasures of Paris—all can be glimpsed as each phrase dances toward the next, imbued with deep historical connections to the music that, a few short years later, would become the center of her focus and the source of her lifelong joy. Whimsical blues licks jump and twirl alongside shades of Messiaen and Debussy, cast in celebratory counterpoint, as Connie paints impressions of those days of early self-discovery. The stretch specifcally named for dreams captures some of the same vitality, but with a feeling of maturity, a second portrait of self-actualization viewed from the privilege of experience.

“Self” can only exist in the context of “other,” the individual and the universal in constant symbiotic growth, the connection between each note and the larger form those notes create being paramount. As Anna Popkin, drummer Carol Tristano and saxophonist Lenny Popkin’s daughter, preternaturally aware of the integral connection between individuality and universal expression, so eloquently and succinctly observes, “Every emotion is an art.” Through a process of intuitive transformation, the playful octaves of the first stretch of the concert morph into the stark and sometimes bleak harmonies of Connie’s homage to the Paris Commune, its brief existence and long-fostered dream of freedom reflected in every gesture on that October day in 2011. Most poignant of all, familiar melodies arise, like fleeting visions, from the sonorities of the final stretch. “Come Rain, Come Shine” and “Carol’s Dream” bloom and fade as fleeting dream images amidst the fluctuating backdrop of elastic tempo and autumnal color, each note deep and luminous. In Connie’s hands, “How Deep is the Ocean” is an appropriate encapsulation of an artistic statement, a space where personal and universal dreams merge, where there is no boundary between form and feeling, no inhibition of moving freely through the world, of hope where hope seems unfathomable. If Connie’s voyage through innocence and experience encompasses one overarching feeling, it is hope—hope in a dark time, daring to create the musical embodiment of hope, to feel and to trust the feelings of others, daring to love. — Marc Medwin

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