May 122012

For you aural delectation on this sunny weekend (at least here it’s sunny) NC offers a delightful, whimsical, lilting, sunny, multi-ethnic  jazz piano & ensemble performance, “La Danse,” from my old friend Elizabeth Woodbury Kasius and the group Heard. I have known Elizabeth, yea, these 15 years and more, ever since she lived in the walk-up apartment on Broadway in Saratoga Springs and was my boys’ first piano teacher. Eventually she moved out of town to a rambling house in Middle Grove where she hosted huge bonfire and potluck parties with masses of friends, children and dogs. Then she moved again, to Troy, NY, (no more piano lessons) and got married and had a daughter — but we’ve always kept in touch and she performs in the area constantly. Elizabeth was an inspirational teacher and certainly had a profound effect on  Jonah who has played in half-a-dozen bands and still composes. But she always had her own art and it was pleasant, after lessons, to talk about plans and projects.

Her first CD (Shade Songs) cover featured a painting by another NC friend and contributor Laura Von Rosk (see Laura’s paintings and her photo essays from Antarctica on Numéro Cinq — NC sometimes seem less like a magazine than a family). Eventually, the group Heard formed around her and there have been four more CDs, the latest being the marvelous Karibu of which “La Danse” is part.

If you’re in the area or feel like jetting in, Elizabeth and Heard will be performing at the legendary Saratoga Springs coffee house Caffe Lena on Friday May 25th, 8pm. It be well worth the trip.



La Danse from Karibu (click the player and listen)


La Danse began as a piano sketch inspired by working with modern dancers at Skidmore College, then enjoyed a stint as a string quartet. Now it’s created a new life for itself in this version, with lyrics by Zorkie Nelson (drums/vocals) in Ga,
This is truly a piece of ours that highlights our many influences–you can hear the Cotton Club in Jonathan Greene’s clarinet, you can hear Ravel in the writing, and Ghana throughout, in the marimba-like gyil, drums, bells and shakers.
— Elizabeth Woodbury Kasius




The original repertoire of Heard is the work of composer-arranger-pianist Elizabeth Woodbury Kasius who brings a wide array of styles — jazz, classical and world music — into her captivating soundscape. Her inspirations come from her diverse experiences and interests and are often drawn from the raw and powerful sources that nature provides. Heard’s dynamic and eclectic lineup of musicians gives Elizabeth a multitude of talents and textures to compose for, and to perform with.

Elizabeth received her formal musical training at the University of Washington and Cornish College of the Arts in Seattle, where she studied ethnomusicology, piano performance and composition with Brazilian pianist Jovino Santos Neto, trombonist Julian Priester and Big Band leader/trumpet player Jim Knapp, as well as with Nigerian Juju musician IK Dairo.

In addition to teaching composition and piano privately, she has been an adjunct professor for 12 years in the Dance Department at Russell Sage College in Troy, NY, where she works as a dance musician and composer-in-residence. Her collaborations with dancers have also led her to work with the NYC-based Mark Morris, Jose Limon, and Doug Varone Companies, and the NYC Ballet, and with Saratoga Springs’ TangoFusion. Her work with the Capital-District based Ellen Sinopoli Modern Dance Company has led to numerous Arts-in-Education Residencies in regional elementary schools. Elizabeth has also played keyboard and percussion with the Brazilian group The Berkshire Bateria for eight years, as well as with vocalist/songwriter Joy Adler.

  One Response to “La Danse from Karibu: Jazz Piano — Elizabeth Woodbury Kasius & Heard”

  1. La Danse sounds beautiful. Is that a soprano sax in the beginning? I love it. Thanks for posting this. What a great way to start my morning.

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