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Primal Elegance


Bud Tristano, guitar
Connie Crothers, piano

1. Primal Elegance
2. Poesía
3. M-theory
4. Modal
5. Sunspot
6. Mahicanituk (the continually flowing waters)
7. Sound Painting
8. A Room in Manhattan
9. Anima Manahatta
10. Fractal

Free improvisations selected from private sessions, June 1997 to January 2001


Today's album is most unusual. Connie Crothers has been making advanced free-but-grounded jazz for many years. She is a pianist without peer, a essential creative force in the music today. Her music can look back to earlier jazz roots and you sometimes hear new music elements, all forged into a stylistic originality that is all her own. But if you told me she made a rock album up until recently I would have been incredulous. Well, it so happens she did, in a way, back in 2002. Bud Tristano, son of the titan pianist Lennie, happens to be a very good guitarist who mostly comes out of an advanced hard, metal stance.

Connie and Bud made an album together, Primal Elegance (New Artists 1038CD) that I am only now aware of, thanks to Connie kindly sending me a copy. It is indeed a melding of rock guitar elements and Connie's inimitable piano freedom. This might have been a failure if the two didn't bridge the distance by very close listening. I've heard things like this that did not come off because the connection was never quite made. Not so, this one.

Bud most of the time keeps to free expressions of a metallic sort, well constructed, virtuoso-oriented. He does also adapt himself to less rock-oriented free-ness, but it is primarily Connie who shifts what she does, at least at the beginning. What she does at times is adjust toward a centered tonality, modal-eastern and bluesy. It isn't that she plays in ways unlike her. And in the end she gradually gears into complexities that Bud responds to with rock sensibilities and takes it outside himself via bends, feedback and sometimes non-centered chording.

There are ten improvised segments in all. They showcase a fine guitar playing and a brilliant seconding and/or directional openness on Ms. Crothers’ part that puts it together and makes it much more than just a fascinating meeting of disparity. Ultimately most of the time it achieves a oneness that you would not expect to hear if you didn't already expect great things from Connie. And of course it is Bud's prowess and adaptability that brings coherence on his side as well.

This may not be what a rocker expects and it isn't what an avant free acolyte expects, either. It is a joyous surprise that you need to hear closely to fully appreciate. If you aren't afraid of mixed categories and seek synergies, this is one you will want to explore!
— Grego Edwards, Gapplegate Guitar and Bass Blog, Monday, June 22, 2015


The commingling of basic cries of life with tempered softness is befitting the recording's title Primal Elegance. Raw energy and compassion appear to coexist simultaneously and harmoniously.

Tristano becomes an expressive conductor of charged ions while using his articulate fingering to construct significant moments in time. Crothers responds to these varied stimuli with deep, emotional abstractions — with explosively deep and ponderous retorts to the energized volts of current sparking from Tristano's guitar.
— Frank Rubolino, One Final Note, Spring 2002

Connie Crothers and Bud Tristano make a dynamic duo that should cause some serious rumbles of joy and awe within the music world. Expect great things from this pairing.
— Bob Powers, The World's Magazine

Bud Tristano treats this encounter like one long, segmented guitar solo, definitely putting the primal in Primal Elegance. Crothers' gentle ostinatos, rippling arpeggios and odd harmonies find different ways to shade the music almost every time.
— Aaron Steinberg, Jazz Times, July 2002

Their encounter on Primal Elegance produces music of a singular fascination. It is not jazz-rock in the common sense of the term. It escapes every category. Nevertheless, it all works to telepathic perfection.
— Vittorio Lo Conte, All About Jazz/Italy, April 2002


I just have one word for your music. Excellent!!! It is just Art!!! There is a very special feeling in the interaction piano-guitar. It is incredible.
— Roberto Lupercio, Radio Universidad 104.1, Universidad Autonoma de Baja California

Very experimental and interesting music.
— Gustavo Bolasini, El Retorno del Gigante, Argentina, September 2002


It's a pure piece of art ... even if it's a little different in comparison with what is called a guitar oriented album! Man ... it’s a higher form of art ... an enchantment for mind, spirit and soul!!! Congratulations! I'll play it with pride.
— Ovidiu Dumitrescu, For the Love of Guitar, Romania, May 2003


A challenging, engaging work.
Guitar 9 Records, www.guitar9.com