discography

SPONTANEOUS SUITES was selected for inclusion in the ten best recordings of 2012 by Ken Weiss (Jazz Improv) Alain Drouot (Downbeat, WNUR-FM) and Pat Frisco (jazzcorner.com , July 16, 2012).

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CONNIE CROTHERS and DAVID ARNER
SPONTANEOUS SUITES FOR TWO PIANOS
4-CD box set. ROGUEART 0037. www.roguart.com

By Ken Weiss

Connie Crothers is a pianist who’s blown me away during numerous live performances in the past and with this French label box set release, she’s captured the magic on record. Well deserving of broader acclaim, Crothers, a longtime collaborator with legendary pianist Lennie Tristano and also drummer Max Roach, is a master of spontaneous composition who works with a full arsenal of technique which never comes off over done. She’s matched up here with David Arner, a true kindred spirit and a new name for me. Arner has played with Crothers in the past and matches her turn for turn throughout this project.

The 27 separate pieces that form these nine suites are hard to define. How does one do justice in describing art that is so elastic, so alive and personal? It’s a dance along the entire range of the piano. It’s not the typical exchange of ideas traded back and forth you’d expect from a duo, it’s a commingling of free souls excavating their tender sides. Crothers has fashioned fiery music in the past but there’s more of a dreamy spaciousness here. It’s a lover’s embrace, a kiss, a dance, along with a trail of tears and painful memories. But make no mistake, this is not cocktail music, it’s challenging yet accessible at the same time. Beautiful melodies erupt and fade in ways that are hard to believe came spontaneously. Close listening is rewarded over and over.

It’s easier to describe the process of how the project came about than it is to put words to the music itself. In 2009, the duo booked the acoustically perfect auditorium at Bard College for an entire day and after a minimal sound check, they played all day with minimal stops, switching between the two Steinway grand pianos when the time seemed right. Every note played that day is on the four discs. There were no out takes or false takes, there were no pre-thought notes in any way. In the wrong hands, these conditions could lead to disaster but, if done right, and it requires a high degree of trust and empathy, a higher level of creative music can be achieved, as it is here.

Crothers, commenting on disc 1’s Suite II, noted that it especially hit her “how literally true ‘A Musician’s Story’ is. This is my story, the story of how I got tapped on the shoulder, made the necessary adjustments in my life, and then came to New York City into a completely different life from the one that I had previously had. It is a musical portrayal, uncanny in its match to the detail in how this was for me. While creating the music, we were in another place, there were no boundaries. I don’t really feel that ‘I’ create this music, we tap into it, it flows through us. David and I were the truly blessed piano players that day.”

Jazz Inside
April 2012

 


MORE REVIEWS OF
SPONTANEOUS SUITES

> CONNIE CROTHERS and DAVID ARNER
SPONTANEOUS SUITES FOR TWO PIANOS
Ken Weiss, Jazz Inside
April 2012

CONNIE CROTHERS and DAVID ARNER
SPONTANEOUS SUITES FOR TWO PIANOS
Grego Edwards, Gapplegate Music Review
April 2012

CONNIE CROTHERS and DAVID ARNER
SPONTANEOUS SUITES FOR TWO PIANOS
Peter Aaron, Chronogram
July 2012

CONNIE CROTHERS and DAVID ARNER
SPONTANEOUS SUITES FOR TWO PIANOS
Brian Morton, Point of Departure
July 2012

CONNIE CROTHERS and DAVID ARNER
SPONTANEOUS SUITES FOR TWO PIANOS
Ken Waxman, thewholenote.com
November 2012

 



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