discography

“Live at the Freight” was named one of the 10 best recordings of 2014 by Ken Weiss (Cadence, Jazz Inside) and Duck Baker (The Absolute Sound, New York Jazz Record)

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Live at the Freight
New Artists Records (2013)

CONNIE CROTHERS, piano
JESSICA JONES, tenor sax

By Alex Henderson

Jazz musicians are often referred to as “inside players” or “outside players,” but the two are not mutually exclusive by any means. There are some avant-garde improvisers who play outside 100% of the time, and there are many swing, bop, post-bop, Dixieland and fusion artists who have no interest whatsoever in anything avant-garde. But there are also musicians who thrive on both the inside and the outside, and that is exactly what happens with tenor saxophonist Jessica Jones and acoustic pianist Connie Crothers on Live at the Freight. This post-bop/avant-garde CD documents an August 10, 2011 appearance at the Freight & Salvage Coffeehouse in Berkeley, California, where Jones and Crothers form an intimate, cohesive duo. The absence of drums and bass is not a problem; Jones and Crothers are fine without those instruments and say what needs to be said whether they are playing standards, Jones’ “Family” or some free-spirited improvisations.

The pacing is handled thoughtfully and handled well. Jones and Crothers play three very familiar standards: Jerome Kern and Oscar Hammerstein’s “All the Things You Are,” Duke Ellington’s “In a Sentimental Mood” and Harry Warren’s “There Will Never Be Another You”—and between those standards, they offer improvised performances. Much of the time, their playing is very inside. But when they do venture outside, one might hear Jones acknowledging John Coltrane’s more avant-garde side or Crothers offering some acknowledgement of the iconoclastic pianist Cecil Taylor (who is one of the most influential and innovative musicians in the history of avant-garde jazz—Taylor is right up there with Ornette Coleman and Roscoe Mtchell when it comes to being a trailblazer). Jones and Crothers’ playing can be either melodic or abstract, depending on what strikes their fancy at a given moment. They leave their options open. But the more avant-garde parts of Live at the Freight should be thought of as mildly avant-garde rather than radically avant-garde. Although Crothers has some Taylor-ish moments, she doesn’t play like that all the time. Much of her pianism on this 52-minute CD is melodic post-bop pianism. And there are times when Live at the Freight isn’t avant-garde at all.

Take, for example, Jones’ “Family,” which is the last song on the disc. “Family” is a warm, reflective, good-natured post-bop offering that lasts 10 minutes and doesn’t include any avant-garde playing at all. That selection is totally inside, and it certainly ends Live at the Freight on a congenial and accessible note.

Nonetheless, the inside/outside dynamic is an important part of the album’s appeal. And the friendly dialogue that Jones and Crothers enjoy yields satisfying results on Live at the Freight.

Jazz Inside
October 2013

 


MORE REVIEWS OF
LIVE AT THE FREIGHT

LIVE AT THE FREIGHT
Grego Applegate Edwards
Gapplegate Music Review, 2013

LIVE AT THE FREIGHT
Brian Questa, The Free Jazz Collective
April 30, 2014

LIVE AT THE FREIGHT
Robert Iannapollo, Cadence
April / May / June 2014

LIVE AT THE FREIGHT
Brent Black, Critical Jazz
2013

LIVE AT THE FREIGHT
Jordan Richardson
Something Else! Reviews, 2013

> LIVE AT THE FREIGHT
Alex Henderson
Jazz Inside, October 2013

LIVE AT THE FREIGHT
Tom Greenland, The New York City Jazz Record
September 2013





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