TUSTEN JAZZ continues with the first public performance of “Bolts of Melody: The Startling Convergence of Emily Dickinson and Connie Crothers” an intimate afternoon performance by celebrated improvisational pianist/vocalist Kazzrie Jaxen in DVAA’s Krause Recital Hall.
About the Performance:
Kazzrie and her friend Connie Crothers, a great musician and improviser, shared a deep connection to Emily Dickinson’s poetry. A few days before Connie’s passing in 2016, Kazzrie and Connie traded Emily’s poems back and forth, reading and speaking them to one another.
One morning, several months later, after improvising for a couple of hours, Kazzrie stood up from the piano and felt Connie and Emily on either side of her, pouring their music and poetry into her head. A lightbulb went on in Kazzrie’s brain. She instantly grasped the totality of what was being communicated to her. She was being asked to set Emily’s poetry to Connie’s jazz compositions (called “lines”) and then to sing and play them together.
The two poems that Kazzrie already knew by heart fit perfectly with the first two jazz lines that Connie had ever written. And that was just the beginning. What can only be described as an ongoing collaboration between Kazzrie, Connie, and Emily began to unfold, resulting in a multi-dimensional work consisting of Connie’s jazz lines, Emily’s poems, and Kazzrie’s interpretations and improvisations.
Kazzrie performed the entire set for the first time at a private gathering in NYC in May of 2023. Two weeks later, she was browsing the internet for information about Emily’s relationship to the piano and discovered that George Boziwick, former chief of the Music Division of the New York Public Library for the Performing Arts, had published a book in 2022 entitled “Emily Dickinson’s Music Book and the Musical Life of an American Poet.” In it he revealed that Emily was a gifted pianist and improviser before she became a poet. “By her twenties, Emily was known by family and neighbors to be an expert improviser at the keyboard . . .These improvisations were on display at family gatherings, or late at night, when her cousin John Graves recalled that he would be awakened by this ‘heavenly music.’ Emily would explain in the morning, ‘I can improvise better at night.'”
For Kazzrie, the whole experience has been an extraordinary demonstration of the power of love, words, and music to transcend the boundaries of time and space, life and death.
This will be the first public performance of this work.
“. . . she is onto something very original . . . she is a striking talent, and a talent
with a strong personality.”
– Robert Palmer, NY Times
Kazzrie Jaxen is an improvising pianist, vocalist, composer, and teacher who has been a vital part of the improvising music scene for many years. Her musical expression ranges from free improvisation to jazz standards, from original songs to vibrational journeys into the dreamtime.
She has recorded for the Cadence, Jazz Records, and New Artists labels. Her most recent release is an homage to the Delaware River with guitarist Bud Tristano entitled “Lenapewiattuck: River of the Lenape.”
Her performances have included concerts at NYC venues such as Lincoln Center, Carnegie Recital Hall, Town Hall, The Blue Note, Birdland, The Stone, Soapbox Gallery, as well as concerts in the US and in Europe. She has toured with her one-woman show combining original music, artwork, poetry and prose. She has also created music for several award-winning short films, and was the subject of “Dear Director,” a hybrid fictional/documentary directed by Marcus Lindeen. In addition to performing and recording “Bolts of Melody: The Startling Convergence of Emily Dickinson and Connie Crothers,” her current projects include trio and duo recordings, an original cycle of solo performances, and an audio version of Frederick Leboyer’s classic book, “Birth Without Violence.”
She was recently interviewed by Danish writer Jakob Baekgaard for the online magazine “All About Jazz.” The interview is titled “Kazzrie Jaxen — The Impulse of Creation.” An extended version of that interview appears in his new book entitled “At the Piano: Portraits and Pieces in the Key of Jazz.”