Connie Crothers Quartet | CCQT | Ontology | NA1035

Connie Crothers, piano | Richard Tabnik, alto saxophone | Roger Mancuso, drums | Sean Smith, bass

Tracklist: 1. Ontology 2. My Shining Hour 3. Come Rain or Come Shine 4. Bird’s Word 5. Fortuity 6. Double Chi

“Ontology” sustains the most exhilirating and inventive hard bop I have heard in many years and I imagine that to catch this band on a good night must be awesome. You must check “Ontology” out! — David Lewis, Cadence, January 2001

“The solos here are unique and challenging. (Tabnik) frequently uses theextreme upper register and plays angular lines. … Crothers has a veryactive left hand, which she sometimes brings to the fore, and the complex interplay of her left and right hands deserves close attention.” — Harvey Pekar, Jazz Times, November 2000

Connie Crothers Quartet | CCQT | Ontology | NA1035

On the quartet album Ontology

Crothers has an opportunity to stretch out in tandem with alto player Richard Tabnik and a complementary rhythm team of drummer Roger Mancuso and bassist Sean Smith. Mancuso has been associated with Crothers since the 1970s when they recorded on the Steeplechase label. The heavy, penetrating piano of Crothers is again present, but her introspective nature is tempered and redirected outwardly through her association with the other musicians. Tabnik contributes a lofty, spiraling alto sound that swirls around and inside the piano eddies of Crothers. The tunes have a semblance of structure but are really freelance expressions spun off the song format. Tabnik has the soul of a bop player trying to emerge and penetrate the wall of unconventionality that defines the program. He speaks in a liberated tongue, but his improvisations contain a modicum of form that suggests roots in more traditional modes of expression. His composition “Fortuity” has tangible handles and the changes of “Everything Happens to Me” to enforce even further this dual personality.

The band maintains the Crothers’ stance on playing popular tunes. “My Shining Hour” and “Come Rain or Come Shine” are artfully cloaked in newness to make them unusual and challenging. Direction is given by Smith and Mancuso, who have a foothold in the time zone to counteract the liberated wanderings of Crothers. They become an interesting counterpoint when supporting her solos. Crothers’ playing is far ranging and involved, while the bass and drums provide the berth for docking the ship should it ever come to port. The recording is one of contrasts pitting the searching soul of Crothers against the stability of her band. It results in a very enjoyable session where the two factions coexist and thrive. Mostly, it provides further substantiation of the inventive talent of Crothers, who can transform any tune into a personal statement of creative expression. by Frank Rubolino,, September 2001,

The most striking aspect of the music

they create is their ability to communicate their individuality while blending into a functioning, cohesive ensemble. This requires a considered approach to the question of “…the nature aand relations of being…” in a democratic group context — thus ontology. Maintaining an individual identity while coalescing into such a satisfying ensemble, and simultaneously creating such a high level of musical quality and surprise, is the true challenge of jazz. The degree to which these four musicians succeed on “Ontology” is refreshing and rare.” — Art Lange, June 19999 (from liner notes)

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One thought on “Connie Crothers Quartet | CCQT | Ontology | NA1035

  1. “The Connie Crothers Quartet or CCQt, is in brilliant, driving form as they generate explosive contemporary bop in “Ontology”. Alto sax player Richard Tabnik creates free alto sax lines that project an eerie bi-tonal quality throughout his probing solos in pieces like “Ontology” and the uptempo “Bird’s Word.” Tabnik’s sound is uniquely his own, exploring the fertile ground somewhere between Charlie Parker and early Ornette Coleman; just listen to the engaging double-tempo lines he creates in a swinging version of “My Shining hour” and the floating free blues lines in ballads like “Come Rain or Come Shine” and his memorable original “Fortuity.” Crothers has rarely sounded so inspired, from her spacy lyricism in “Ontology” and “Come Rain or Come Shine” to her percussive intensity in “Double Chi” and the lively rapport and free interplay with drummer Roger Mancuso following Tabnik’s dramatic solo in “Bird’s Word.” “Ontology” sustains the most exhilirating and inventive hard bop I have heard in many years and I imagine that to catch this band on a good night must be awesome. You must check “Ontology” out!

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