KAZZRIE JAXEN has been playing music her whole life. Her performances and recordings merge the multiple streams of her experience. Her music is spontaneously improvised, but not stylistically restricted to a particular genre. She loves to play the piano and sing, loves the joy of being surprised in the moment, and loves the deep dive into the cosmic womb of creation. She is especially grateful for musical friendships and collaborations and to the many jazz listeners who, with their energy and enthusiasm, continue to co-create this amazing art form.
Kazzrie (formerly known as Liz Gorrill) grew up in Manhasset, NY, improvising original songs into her father's tape recorder at the age of four, studying classical piano at the age of six, and performing at Carnegie Recital Hall at the age of ten. School and friends provided a parallel dimension: she sang in choirs, danced to rock-'n'-roll, acted in musicals, participated in student government, was president of the modern dance performing group, played guitar, and performed folk music. She majored in Music and Drama at Denison University, worked as a cast member in "The Mod Donna" at The New York Public Theater, and apprenticed at Williamstown Summer Theater. She studied jazz improvisation briefly at Berklee School of Music in Boston, and then left to study privately with pianist Harvey Diamond. During this time she read "The Autobiography of a Yogi" by Paramahansa Yogananda, began to meditate, and made a youthful declaration: music would be her spiritual path.
In 1973 Kazzrie returned to New York to study with pianist Lennie Tristano. His approach to improvising (which had been introduced to her by Harvey) inspired her to connect deeply with the feeling of every note. Meditating at the piano, Kazzrie realized that her spiritual declaration had led her here. She dropped her spiritual practices and plunged into jazz. A few years later Lennie began presenting her in concerts in his home, and then he produced two solo concerts for her at Carnegie Recital Hall. After Lennie's death in 1978, she continued to perform and record in NYC and in Europe, studying with a third great pianist and friend, Connie Crothers. During this time she made two recordings for the Jazz Records label ( www.jazzrecordsinc.com ): I Feel Like I'm Home (JR2LP), a solo concert; and True Fun, (JR7LP), a trio with saxophonist Lenny Popkin and bassist Eddie Gomez, which was voted "Best Record of the Year, Critics Choice Top Ten" by Victor Schonfield, Jazz Journal, England, and Lois Moody, Ottawa Citizen, Canada.
Kazzrie, who had begun teaching improvisation in association with Lennie, continued teaching privately at her studios in Queens and Manhattan. She immersed herself in the NYC jazz scene for many years, performing in New York and in Europe, sessioning with musicians and friends several nights a week, and producing CDs on the New Artists labe; with guitarist Andy Fite, (Phantasmagoria and Cosmic Comedy) and tenor saxophonist Charley Krachy, A Jazz Duet, as well as a solo concert, Dreamflight.
Kazzrie left New York City in 1994. Dealing with health challenges, she moved to a quiet town in upstate NY, wondering if her life as a musician was over. She spent several years in solitude and silence. Stripped of all she'd identified with, she was forced to explore her relationship to the world in a new way. She began walking by the Delaware River everyday. The River became her primary physician and master teacher, inspiring her to look and listen more deeply to what was all around her, to enter the silence of Nature's language. She fell in love with the water, sky, trees, stones, plants, and animals. Life became a new kind of adventure, and she began to heal. As a result of this experience, Kazzrie developed an interest in Intuitive Diagnosis and Energy Medicine, eventually learning from teachers Meredith Young-Sowers and Carolyn Myss, among others. Under Nature's tutelage, she created a vibrational modality which she now calls "Dreaming in Music." Private sessions begin at the River. Clients (Dreamers) tune into the patterns of the river, then come to Kazzrie's studio and lie underneath her grand piano as she tunes into their energy and plays into their bodies. These sessions are shamanic journeys which work at the vibrational level to deepen intuition and awaken primal awareness. (www.kazzriejaxen.com ) Kazzrie had also been studying the ancient movement art of Qigong (with Franklin Kwong, Ronger Shen, Yi Wu, Michael Winn, Tina Zhang, Mantak Chia, and Robert Peng.) In partnership with Nature, she began to create a new Qigong form called "Earth Beauty Qigong" which, along with other movement forms and meditations, she now teaches in workshops and at The Lodge at Woodloch in Hawley, Pennsylvania. She is the author of a forthcoming book about her experiences during this time entitled "Changing Keys: A True Tale of Jazz, Genes, Chi, Pee, Adam, Eve and Alchemy." Two of her CDs are also reflections of her story: For the Beauty of the Earth (on New Artists) is a solo expression of her spiritual journey; and Prayers and Mad Laughter (produced independently) is a multi-tracked exploration of evolution and rebirth. (This CD is available directly from Kazzrie at email@example.com)
Liz/Kazzrie never imagined that she would change her name. But during her healing time, she came across the idea that a name is similar to a musical chord, and that being "in tune" with one's name can have a powerful effect on one's life and one's health. She utilized a system based on numerology to choose a new name, (www.kabalarians.com) but needed to do something else to summon the courage to actually make it legal. In 2002, in collaboration with director Johnathon Pape, she created a one-woman show entitled "Kazzrie In Boogie and Blue" as a rite of passage. She combined original music, art, photos, poetry and stories that celebrated the challenges and humor of her former life as Liz and brought in the energy for her new life as Kazzrie. She performed this unique jazz musical in 2002 and 2003 in New York and North Carolina to critical acclaim, and continues to evolve this art form.
In 2004 Kazzrie had the opportunity to bring her "Dreaming In Music" work into a performance setting. She was invited by Warren Muller and RJ Thornburg to play in the Philly Fringe Festival at Bahdeebahdu, their beautiful gallery in Philadelphia's Olde City. In honor of Warren's magnificent light sculptures, Kazzrie called her performance "Vibration Luma" and for four nights people came to journey into the light, lying underneath and around a 9-foot Steinway. Years later, as a guest artist during Connie Crother's 2009 residency at The Stone in NYC, she brought her shamanic work into performance again with "Love's Fire," this time visualizing a giant energy-piano over the audience and using Rumi's poetry as the inspiration for an improvised journey. In 2010 she joined saxophonist Lorenzo Sanguedolce and bassist Michael Bisio for a shamanic journey at the Clemente Soto Velez Cultural Center in NYC, and in 2016 she continued this work in performances in Brooklyn with guitarist Adam Caine at IBeam and bassist Adam Lane at Scholes Studio.
In 2006 Kazzrie won the Best Music Award at the DVAA Digit Festival for "Roebling Resonance," a trilogy of multi-tracked pianos and voices which was played outdoors at the Roebling Bridge on the Delaware River.
In 2008 she collaborated with film director Ragnar Friedank, improvising a solo piano soundtrack for his movie "Beautiful Hills of Brooklyn," starring Joanna Merlin, which won Best Short Film at the Big Apple Film Festival and 1st Place in the Beverly Hills Hi-Def Festival. (www.beautifulhillsofbrooklyn.com) She also performed a two-piano concert with Connie Crothers at John Ford's Piano Company in Peekskill, NY.
In 2009 she began playing monthly sessions with saxophonist Charley Krachy, bassist Don Messina, and drummer Bill Chattin. They became a working quartet, playing concerts and clubs on a regular basis. In 2013 Cadence Records released their first CD, Callicoon Sessions, and the band produced a second CD from live performances in 2014 (Quaternity, on New Artists). In July 2015 they were honored to play at Lincoln Center for Lennie Tristano's Induction into the JALC Jazz Hall of Fame. Kazzrie, Charley, and Don began working as a trio at the end of 2016. www.kazzriejaxenquartet.com
In 2010 Kazzrie and poet Mark Weber performed a duo concert at the Outpost in Albuquerque, NM, which became A Million Shimmering Fish (New Artists), released in 2013. That year she also collaborated with fellow pianist Mark Gabriele on a different kind of creative venture: a book entitled "Love's Ways: A Meditation on Love" combining Mark's words with Kazzrie's pastels. www.mirambelpublishing.com
In 2011, Kazzrie performed with vocalist Dori Levine in a series of concerts at University of the Streets in NYC.
( https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jSnPWjyYFtQ )
In 2014 Kazzrie was contacted by Marcus Lindeen, a young Swedish film director, who'd found a letter she'd written to director Ingmar Bergman in 1981 after seeing his film "From the Life of Marionettes." Three months later Marcus arrived in the US with a film crew, and together they created a hybrid fiction/documentary based on Kazzrie's original letter. "Dear Director" was shown on TV and in theaters and festivals in Sweden. Its world premiere was at the 2015 Locarno Film Festival, where it won the Cinema & Gioventi Prize for Best International Short Film. It premiered in the US at the Big Eddy Film Festival in Narrowsburg, NY. (www.bieff.ro/en/2016/films/dear-director)
In 2015 Kazzrie performed in Brooklyn with saxophonist Nick Lyons and bassist Ken Filiano at Scholes Studio, with saxophonist Gary Levy at The Drawing Room, and in NYC with saxophonist Tim Price at Michiko Studios. (www.youtube.com/watch?v=ruvJCc_ZNkc)
In May of 2016, Kazzrie's quartet played at The Outpost in Albuquerque, NM as part of Mark Weber's "Interlace" concert series, which also featured pianist Virg Dzurinko, pianist Carol Liebowitz, and clarinetist Bill Payne. Kazzrie and Virg concluded the series with a two-piano improvisation. On November 13, over 70 musicians, dancers, artists, and poets gathered for "Love and Music: A Celebration of Connie Crothers" at Roulette in Brooklyn. Kazzrie was a co-producer of this event (with Virg Dzurinko, Carol Liebowitz and Andrea Wolper) and played a set with saxophonists Gary Levy and Jimmy Halperin, bassist Joe Solomon, and drummer Roger Mancuso. In December she performed in Frederico Ughi's "Forward Festival" with saxophonist Nick Lyons, clarinetist Patrick Holmes, and guitarist Adam Caine.
Upcoming projects include Lenape Seepu: River of the Lenape, a duet CD with guitarist Bud Tristano to be released on New Artists; "Quantum Entanglement," a piano duo with Virg Dzurinko; "Connie and Emily," the poetry of Emily Dickinson set to the jazz lines of Connie Crothers; "Jazz Mystics," the poetry of Rumi, Hafiz, and Tagore set to original music; and a collaboration with vibraphonist Kevin Norton and bassist Steve LaSpina.
Kazzrie has been honored to perform, record, and session many wonderful musicians over the years, including Lenny Popkin, Eddie Gomez, Roger Mancuso, Joe Solomon, Warne Marsh, Ratzo B. Harris, Cameron Brown, Carol Tristano, Russell Rockman, Andy Fite, Charley Krachy, Gary Levy, Fran Canisius, Nomi Rosen, Don Messina, Bill Chattin, Jimmy Halperin, Chris Aiello, Bud Tristano, Richard Tabnik, Larry Meyer, Stan Fortuna, Skip Scott, Jeff Brown, Harvey S, Peter Scattaretico, Tim Price, Lee Konitz, Lorenzo Sanguedolce, Michael Bisio, Nick Lyons, Adam Caine, Patrick Holmes, Ken Filiano, Adam Lane, Dori Levine, Virg Dzurinko, Carol Liebowitz, Connie Crothers, Kai Monde, Harry Schulz, Anna Diorio, Jeff Pearring, Thurman Barker, Will Juhn, Bill Payne, Mark Weber, Mark Gabriele, Kevin Norton, Steve LaSpina, Dean Sharp, Robert Kopec, and a 6-person drum ensemble called The Drummers.