bio discography

“CONVERSATIONS,” NA1044CD, is a reissue of the previously-released  duo CD of that name, and is now included in the release, "THE STONE SET." This two-CD package is available for the price of one CD.

THE STONE SET was selected for inclusion in the ten best recordings of 2011 by Ken Waxman of The New York City Jazz Record. CONVERSATIONS was selected as one of the ten best recordings of 2008 by Bill Shoemaker and Art Lange.


Connie Crothers and Bill Payne

By Ed Hazel

There’s not a wasted note on these tightly constructed, pithy duets between pianist Connie Crothers and clarinetist Bill Payne. Each of the fourteen improvisations sprouts from an initial phrase played by each partner and grows by means of elaborations, variations, and recapitulations of the seed planted by the first notes. Throughout each improvisation, Crothers and Payne remain absolute equals, synchronizing their lines of development without there ever appearing to be a leader and a follower. But they are clearly listening to one another in these intimate dialogues. Each will pick up a hint from the other – mimic a contour, shadow a phrase – but use it only long enough to weave it into what he or she is doing. It’s a kind of a hall of fun house mirrors effect, where images are warped and reflected back and forth until they are utterly transformed. Tempos remain at slow and medium, but there’s lots of variety in other aspects of their collaboration. “Conversation #2” is full of short gestures, Crothers making brief sweeping arcs as if she were juggling scarves, while Payne dips and arcs like a dragon fly. “Conversation #4” is a braid, a macramé construction of lines and knots of chords that form beautiful patterns. On “The Desert and the City,” Payne’s clarinet moves like a leaf buffeted by the wind, tracing long peregrinations, then wafting upward in little curlicues, or using multiphonics to jump in place. Crothers under girds and enfolds Payne with a kaleidoscopic progression of chords and note clusters. The precision with which they fit together is uncanny at time. Like all students of Lennie Tristano, Crothers is often branded as cool, but this is very passionate music, a product of intense concentration and discipline as well as emotional openness and depth.
Issue 18, August 2008


Connie Crothers / Bill Payne, THE STONE SET
Grego Applegate Edwards
Gapplegate Music Review / All About Jazz
October 2011

Connie Crothers / Bill Payne, CONVERSATIONS
Marc Medwin, All About Jazz: New York
November 2008

> Connie Crothers / Bill Payne, CONVERSATIONS
Ed Hazel, Point of Departure
Issue #18, August 2008

Connie Crothers / Bill Payne, CONVERSATIONS
Chris Kelsey,
August 27, 2008

Connie Crothers / Bill Payne, CONVERSATIONS
Scott Yanow, L.A. Jazz Scene

July 2008

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