Connie Crothers – piano | Richard Tabnik – alto saxophone | Roger Mancuso – drums | Ken Filiano – bass
Recorded Live at the Jazz Room, William Patterson University, November 7, 2010. Producers: Richard Tabnik & Connie Crothers. Jazz Room Producers: Pete McGuinness, David Demsey. Recording Engineer: Adam Carelli. Mastering: Max Ross at Studio Systems Two. Design & Photography: Cheryl Richards. Liner Notes by Marc Medwin. Special thanks to Kevin Norton.
Tracklist: 1. Ontology [13:37] 2. Roy’s Joy [11:13] 3. Fortunity [11:58] 4. Linearity [7:40] 5. Deep Friendship [10:40]
The deepest friendship fosters freedom
and from there, the joy of flight. The deepest friendship, like real freedom, is pluralistically unified, a place where the boundaries are malleable, at one moment wide open to the slow build and arc of myriad histories, then suddenly capturing a single moment in all its import, a look, a shared remembrance, a phrase spoken with neither artifice nor conceit, a simple act of communication whose ramifications define and transcend the shared experience, worlds and galaxies emerging from the gestural seed.
The Connie Crothers Quartet is a shared vision, a union of friends whose musical paths began to converge, beginning in the early 60s. Connie and Roger Mancuso’s affinity is already apparent on 1974’s Perception, while Richard Tabnik became associated with Connie in the early 1980s, first as student and then as colleagues. In various formations, these three musicians’ love of improvised music’s rich legacy, their long-nurtured desire to explore the vast depth and breadth it offers, led them away from the musical trends that could bring commercial success and toward a shared aesthetic, deeper and more powerful with each release. Though a recent associate, Ken Filiano’s versatility and rock-solid swing have been propelling the group as it gains momentum and strength.
Deep friendship fosters profound conversational listening. This concert is a stunning manifestation of that concept. Each of the five tunes has been recorded before, some more than once, but as with the gorgeous and ever-present standards that gave them life, these lines take on new vivacity and meaning as these four friends uncover detail on so many levels, digging deep into each sonority, eclipsing what has come before with a sudden shift in dynamics or tempo with the natural excitement of conversation. There are too many moments to catalog: Dig the way Connie and Richard hit, in perfect unity, at 1:1 4 of “Ontology,” Richard way up in the stratosphere and Connie right there with him, or the way Connie’s solo flowers from Richard’s final note. Richard and Ken share a quick but powerful low-register convergence at 1:02 of “Fortuity,” while Roger grabs some wild rhythms from Richard at 1:57 of “Linearity,” driving the tune forward with a sudden burst of snared energy and cymbalic release. A precipitous slant toward silence opens the way for a gorgeous arco bass note, or a resonant piano cluster, or a buttery saxophone trill in jasmine blend with Ken’s bowing, so close to the human voice. Isolated, these are only moments, disconnected instances of communication as the concert is itself a moment in the quartet’s constant flux, but what cannot be verbalized is the vast scope of each tune, the way each gesture connects to the next, anticipating and resolving as tempo disappears and returns, modes are glimpsed and fade, a half-remembered tune surfaces and is gone. Each begins with the tightest unison stated with touching simplicity and chamber-music precision, a melodic greeting, a platform from which the group then blasts off, and even the solos become communal as the others confirm, support, and embrace in the moment.
Friendship enhances, friendship accepts, and above all, friendship enjoys. I hear joy in this music, the joy of instant creation, the joy of engagement,of traveling a shared path, of the worlds created from a single note or rhythm, the elucidation of timbral particles as permeable structures, and of the return, macro and microcosms finally revealed. — Marc Medwin
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