Two New York jazz originals, pianist Connie Crothers and alto saxophonist Jemeel Moondoc, performing 6 improvisations and one original compositions from each artist; melodic and deeply sensitive playing.
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Label: Relative Pitch
Catalog ID: RPR 1008
Squidco Product Code: 17029
Recorded by Ben Manley at Connie's Loft, Kent Street on December 22nd, 2011.
Jemeel Moondoc-alto saxophone
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1. Improvisation 1 6:25
2. You Let Me Into Your Life 11:48
3. Improvisation 2 8:06
4. Deep Friendship 5:31
5. Improvisation 3 4:45
6. Improvisation 4 5:55
7. Improvisation 5 4:00
8. Improvisation 6 7:23
NY Downtown & Jazz/Improv
Melodic and Lyrical Jazz
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"Connie Crothers is a member of that unfortunately not-so-exclusive club of first-rate jazz improvisers who (for reasons unfair) have been relegated to the fringes of the jazz public's consciousness. Why she's not more well-known and/or critically acclaimed has nothing to do with any lack of skill or originality, for Crothers has both to spare. Perhaps the determining non-musical factor in her neglect is the fact that she's an unrepentant disciple of that most neglected of jazz geniuses, the late Lennie Tristano. The knotty intricacies of Crothers' hyper-linear style are indeed frequently invested with her mentor's measured reserve, yet her manifestly intellectual approach to the demands of jazz improvisation does not preclude the expression of emotion. Crothers' playing is very intense; for all her self-possession, she can be quite extroverted. The defining aspect of her style is the freedom she conveys and exploits within the circumscribed boundaries of jazz's standard small-group format.
Crothers began taking piano lessons and composing at the age of nine. As a youngster, she frequently played recitals and concerts, sometimes performing her own compositions. She attended the University of California at Berkeley, where she majored in music with an emphasis on composition. Crothers could find little with which to relate in contemporary approaches to composition, so she turned to jazz as a creative outlet. She became enamored of Tristano's music, and in 1962 she moved to New York in order to study with him. Formal and informal lessons continued with Tristano for ten years. In 1972, Crothers began performing privately for small audiences in Tristano's home. After a year of these, Tristano produced her first "gig": a solo concert in Carnegie Hall. In 1974, Crothers recorded her first album, Perception, on the SteepleChase label. The next year, she returned to Carnegie Hall in a performance with tenor saxophonist Warne Marsh, drummer Roger Mancuso, and bassist Joe Solomon. In 1979, Crothers co-produced (with saxophonist Lenny Popkin) the Lennie Tristano Memorial Concert at Town Hall in New York; that same year she also co-founded the Lennie Jazz Foundation. Crothers recorded Swish, a duo album with drummer Max Roach, in 1982. In the '80s and '90s, the pianist worked as a soloist and in groups that at various times included Popkin, alto saxophonist Richard Tabnik, tenor saxophonist Charlie Krachy, bassist Cameron Brown, and drummer Carol Tristano, among others. Crothers remains at or near the center of a group that perpetuates the Tristano ideal, though her own music retains a personal identity."- Chris Kelsey, All Music
"A powerful and vastly underrated avant-garde alto saxophonist, Jemeel Moondoc blended the free-form melodic thought of Ornette Coleman and the sharp edge of Jackie McLean or Charles Tyler with the sort of ferocious "energy playing" usually reserved for tenorists. Moondoc began playing piano as a child, studied clarinet and flute, and settled on alto around age 16; he subsequently studied with Cecil Taylor at various colleges in the early '70s. In 1972, he moved to New York, where he formed Ensemble Muntu with trumpeter Roy Campbell, bassist William Parker, and drummer Rashid Baker. The group recorded for its own Muntu label in the late '70s, and Moondoc also led solo sessions for labels like Soul Note and Cadence through the early '80s. However, financial difficulties forced Moondoc to break up his large ensemble (the Jus Grew Orchestra) and essentially retire from music for over a decade, working as an architect's assistant.
Moondoc's career was revived in the mid-'90s when the Eremite label coaxed him into signing a deal that allowed tremendous creative leeway. In 1996, Moondoc recorded his first albums in 11 years: the studio trio date Tri-P-Let and the live Fire in the Valley (performed at the festival of the same name). 1998 brought New World Pygmies, a duo with William Parker from that year's Fire in the Valley. Next, Moondoc revived his Jus Grew Orchestra as a ten-piece and performed a set of Massachusetts concerts documented on 2001's Spirit House. Also released that year was Revolt of the Negro Lawn Jockeys, a quintet performance from the 2000 Vision Festival that was acclaimed as perhaps his finest album to date, and whose instrumentation evoked Eric Dolphy's Out to Lunch."-Steve Huey, All Music
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• Show Bio for Jemeel Moondoc
"It was Cecil Taylor who brought the young JEMEEL MOONDOC into modern jazz, and Jemeel has remained a devoted disciple ever since. Moondoc studied with Cecil Taylor and played in his Black Music Ensemble at Antioch College in 1970 - 1971, becoming a featured soloist. Moondoc's own early groups, the Ensemble Muntu, which included Arthur Williams, Mark Hennen, Roy Campbell Jr. William Parker, Rashid Bakr, et al, was very much in the Taylor mold, but Moondoc remained open to other influences as well; the recent release of a three-CD box set, The Muntu Recordings, (NoBusiness Records NBCD 7-8-9) chronicles the first recordings and performances of Jemeel Moondoc and Muntu during the New York loft jazz scene. (see http://www.pointofdeparture.org/PoD27/PoD27Muntu.html)
In the 1980's Moondoc made three recordings for Soul Note Records including Judy's Bounce with Ed Blackwell and Fred Hopkins. This recording in particular gave Moondoc recognition as an innovative improviser and composer; his playing style sits somewhere between Ornette's country wail and Jimmy Lyons street corner preaching. In 1983 Moondoc formed the Jus Grew Orchestra, a group of improvisers that included Roy Campbell Jr. Bern Nix, Zane Massey, Steve Swell, Codaryl Moffett, Nathan Breedlove, John Voigt and others. Moondoc composed extensively, understanding, as did Mingus and Ellington, that t he strength and power of composition lies with the individual and unique talents of the orchestra members, he also use a technique called 'conduction' which is an improvisational technique were the conductor can guide the entire group through unwritten passages. At one point for about a year and a half during 1983 and 1984 Jemeel Moondoc and Jus Grew Orchestra performed every Thursday night at the Neither-Nor bookstore on East 5th Street. The Orchestra also did stints at the Nuyorican Poets Café, and First on First, with intermittent performances at the Fez. The Jus Grew Orchestra made two live CD performances - Spirit House [Eremite, 2000], recorded at UMASS at its Magic Triangle Jazz Series, and Live at the Vision Festival [Ayler, 2002].
Between 1985 and 1996 Jemeel Moondoc could not secure a recording date. "There was a lack of interest in recording so-called free jazz at the time", recalls Moondoc. "I remember thinking that the whole music scene was going downhill, I was still playing, I just didn't record, it didn't really bother me because I knew I was going to get the opportunity to record again".
In 1995 Moondoc began a recording relationship with the now renowned Eremite Records label (eremite.com/eremite); between 1996 and 2002 he recorded several records on Eremite. The most acclaimed is Revolt of the Negro Lawn Jockeys 2001. This recording "shows a musician capable of drawing together the post-bop linage that includes Jackie McClean and Charles Mingus, and the free-jazz energy music tradition of Ornette Coleman and Cecil Taylor into one grand swinging synthesis", writes Ed Hazell in the liner notes. "Any quintet lineup featuring alto sax, vibes, bass and drums inevitably invites comparison with Eric Dolphy's Out To Lunch. Hard act to follow, but Jemeel Moondoc can hold his head up high. Those who take perverse pleasure in announcing the death of jazz in all its forms, should be strapped to a table and forced to listen to this 47-minute set until their ears bleed". - Dan Warburton, Paiisiantransatlantic.com . Jemeel Moondoc's "unorthodoxies are deeply rooted in the knowledge of and a profound feeling for his craft. His heavily vocalized sound on alto combines the sharp edge of Jackie McLean and a gentleness of tone reminiscent of Joe Henderson. He manipulates timbre as expressively as Albert Ayler. The vivid animation and emotionalism of his playing again recall Ayler , along with another of Black Musuc's great exponents, the South African musician Dudu Pukwana". But "Moondoc's rhythmic concept, delivery, and sense of space are completely unique; his phrases slip and wobble prankishly, forming impossible oblique shapes, while somehow holding to a melodic line". "Moondoc gives everything he does an old-world, future-world, other-word plurality. He is one of the most singular players in music, and one of the most eloquent and communicative storytellers", explains Michael Ehlers of Eremite Records.
Moondoc is currently associated with the newly formed Relative Pitch Records, his newly released CD, Two 2012, is an intriguing duo dialogue between Connie Crothers and Moondoc, "the program finds the two players engaging in an off-the-cuff improvisations - the takeaway from this intimate series of duets is that Crothers and Moondoc are kindred souls - not the sort who traffic in cheap musical melodrama - the emotional reach in their interactions is real." (Derek Taylor - Dusted Magazine). Moondoc's newest release The Zookeeper's House 2014, has started to gain some critical acclaim. "Alto saxophonist Jemeel Moondoc has been keeping the faith in a post-free-jazz mindset for many years, working with bassist William Parker and others on the adventuresome avant-jazz fringes. He continues his progression with The Zookeeper's House, The new five-track set, with different groupings and musical angles, captures a distinctly live vibrancy and in-the-moment vulnerability in the studio. On the opening track, Moondoc is joined by sensitive foil Matthew Shipp on piano, bassist Hilliard Green and drummer Newman Taylor Baker, laying out the rumbling ruminations for Moondoc's six note, Albert Ayler-esque theme, played with brittle fervor by the saxophonist. Structure yields to abandon, and Moondoc's toothy, sharp-toned burst, angular fragments and sense of space alight, with empathetic help from his allies. On "Little Blue Elvira," a kind of ambling, slap-happy horn trio-with trumpeter Roy Campbell Jr. (who died a few months after this session, and to whom the album is dedicated) and trombonist Steve Swell joining the leader in unison-conjures up a Mingus vibe. Loose essences of Coltrane (or the Coltranes) are worked into the album's fabric with Alice Coltrane's "Ptah The El Daoud," another chord-less setting with Swell and Campbell, and the aptly named "One For Monk & Trane." "For The Love Of Cindy," with only drums, bass and the saxophonist's poetically embracing space, ends the album on an airy note, with a bittersweet ambiance vaguely redolent of Ornette Coleman's "Lonely Woman," but less lonely. With The Zookeeper's House; Moondoc returns-and-continues-a bit deeper and wiser". Josef Woodard-Downbeat Magizine October 2014"-Jemeel Moondoc Website (https://www.jemeelmoondoc.com/biography)
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• Show Bio for Connie Crothers
"As performer and recording artist, Connie releases her deepest feeling-her source-into the music, creating a wide range of expression and a virtuosity which is based on her desire to discover everything she can hear and imagine through spontaneous improvisation.
This year, She performed solo in Kassel, Germany, at Staats Theater. The reviewer Von Georg Pepl, under the headline "Fantastic Adventure," called it "a magnificent solo concert."
She performed at the Vision Festival with dancers Elaine Gutierrez and Elaine Cray, MoralesDance, at Judson Memorial Church, NYC
During the year, Connie's performances featured a number of musicians in a variety of contexts. She performed duos-with Warren Smith, percussionist, at Zurcher Gallery, NYC and also at Clemente Solo Velez, NYC, presented by Arts for Art Evolving Series; Joe McPhee, tenor saxophone, at Zurcher Gallery NYC; bassist Ken Filiano at Soup and Sound, Brooklyn; electronic composer and improviser Tom Hamilton at The Old Stone House, Brooklyn, presented by Dan Joseph's Musical Ecologies; Paula Hackett, poet, Scholes Street Studio, Brooklyn; Ryan Messina, trumpet, Scholes Street Studio. Her trio performances included TranceFormation-Andrea Wolper, voice, Ken Filiano, bass at the Will Connell Memorial Concert, St. Peter's Church, NYC; Kevin Norton, vibes and percussion, and Guillermo Gregorio at iBeam, Brooklyn; Michael Bisio, bass and Michael T.A. Thompson, drums, at Clemente Solo Velez, Arts for Art, NYC; Adam Lane, Michael Wimberley, Scholes Street Studio; Pete Swanson, bass and Michael Wimberley, drums at Scholes Street Studio. Quartet appearances include Adam Caine Quartet, with Adam Caine on guitar, Ken Filiano on bass, Federico Ughi on drums, Firehouse Performance Space, Brooklyn; Jeff Pearring Quartet at Lang Hall, Hunter College, NYC, with Jeff Pearring on alto saxophone, Ken Filiano on bass and Carlo Costa on drums, also at Scholes Street Studio.
In 2014, Connie was selected for a week residency at The Stone, from August 19 to 24, 2014. She performed twelve sets, each set with a different lineup of musicians. The duet set with Pauline Oliveros was chosen for the critics pick in the music section in Time Out magazine. This residency was a CD release celebration for "Concert in Paris," a CD of selections from a solo concert performed in Paris in 2011, New Artists label. This CD was selected by Ken Weiss for his best of 2014 list in Cadence and by Gregory Applegate Edwards for "best jazz album of the year" (a tie). Earlier in this year, her quartet, with Richard Tabnik on alto saxophone, Ken Filiano on bass, Roger Mancuso on drums, released "Deep Friendship," New Artists, from a concert at William Paterson University. The quartet celebrated the CD release in a performance at Roulette in Brooklyn. This CD received a four-star review in DownBeat and was included by DownBeat in their selection of best recordings of the year. She appeared in the Vision Festival in June with Times Three, a trio with Henry Grimes on bass and violin and Melvin Gibbs on electric bass. In this festival, she also performed in a set with the dancer Patricia Parker. She appeared at The Firehouse Performance Space, Brooklyn, in a quintet led by bassist Adam Lane which featured two pianos, the other pianist being Virg Dzurinko. She performed duo with bassist Ken Filiano at JACK, Brooklyn. She toured California with Jessica Jones, tenor saxophone, celebrating their 2013 CD release, "Live at the Freight." This CD was chosen for best of the year lists by Ken Weiss and Duck Baker.
In 2013, the Relative Pitch label produced a duet CD with alto saxophonist Jemeel Moondoc, "Two." She performed at the Vision Festival with poet Steve Dalachinsky. With the Northwoods Improvisers, she performed at the Edge Festival. She performed solo at Roulette. In 2012, the French label RogueArt released a four-CD box set, a duo with pianist David Arner, "Spontaneous Suites for Two Pianos." Ken Weiss, Alain Drouot and Pat Frisco chose it for their best of 2012 lists. A trio, TranceFormation, with Ken Filiano and singer Andrea Wolper, released the CD, "TranceFormation in Concert," New Artists. She recorded duo with singer Alexis Parsons, "Hippin'," and duo with poet Paula Hackett, "Sharing the Thrill," both released on New Artists. Four CDs were released in 2011. "Live at the Stone, NYC'' features her quartet, performing with poet Mark Weber. Another band release is "Band of Fire," the quartet plus Roy Campbell on trumpet. "The Stone Set," is a duet performance with clarinetist Bill Payne. "Kingston Tone Roads," features a duet with Kevin Norton on vibes and percussion, with Tabnik on one track, New Vanguard label. Connie's quartet appeared in the 2011 Vision Festival. Writing in Jazz Inside, Ken Weiss described this set as "the highlight of the Festival."
Max Roach and Connie recorded duo in 1982, as part of Roach's historic duets project-"Swish," New Artists. This recording got two four-star reviews in DownBeat. They performed duo at the Brooklyn Academy of Music with the Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Dance Company, in Tokyo, and at Harvard University, where she was honored as Visiting Jazz Artist. She co-led an engagement at The Vanguard with tenor saxophonist Warne Marsh, featuring bassist Eddie Gomez and drummer Pete Scatarettico. Marsh performed with her in Carnegie Recital Hall with Mancuso and bassist Joe Solomon. Connie's quartet, co-led with tenor saxophonist Lenny Popkin, featured bassist Cameron Brown and drummer Carol Tristano. Their recording, "Love Energy," was voted #1 of the year in Wire Magazine by Jack Cooke.
As a solo performer, she appeared in the Berlin Jazztage, Jazz at Middleheim when she received a feature article in Knack, the Toronto International Jazz Festival, and at Carnegie Recital Hall, presented by Lennie Tristano. Tristano wrote on her first record, "Perception," SteepleChase, "Connie Crothers is the most original musician it has ever been my privilege to work with." "-Connie Crothers Website (http://www.conniecrothers.net/bio.html)
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