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Janet Clazzy in Cherry Valley June 1

June 1, 2011

By Susan Johnson
Copy Editor

Not many people have a musical style named after them, but Janet Clazzy is the creator of a musical form called clazzy, defined as “the spirit of classical and the soul of jazz—pop-minded.” She will be performing in a free program at 7 p.m., Wednesday, June 1, at Cherry Valley United Methodist Church, 112 S. Cherry St. Joining her on stage will be columnist and humorist Jonathan Richard Cring, creating a duo called SpiriTed—an evolving organism and show.

She plays the oboe as well as the WX-5 Wind Machine (a horn touting the sounds of 250 instruments), bringing three decades of music to the stage, having played in the Chicago, Houston and San Jose, Calif., symphonies. She is also a prolific composer.

Clazzy granted The Rock River Times an exclusive interview.

TRRT: How did you develop this style of music, and how did you meet Jonathan Cring?

Janet Clazzy: Jonathan came from a small town in Ohio that won the National Quartet Convention in Nashville, Tenn., right out of high school. In the mid-’70s, he spent that decade developing his musical style. I, on the other hand, came out of the classical world. I grew up training in orchestra. I got my degree from Northwestern University in Evanston, Ill. I played in the Chicago Symphony and the San Jose and Houston symphonies.

I landed in Shreveport, La., as the principal oboe player, and was there 10 years. When I finished there, several of my friends were performing in a musical called Mountain… written by Jonathan Richard Cring. I had never heard of him, but I went to see his musical. It was based on the Sermon on the Mount. I was just completely stunned by the creativity.

Jonathan grew up listening to classical music, but he also listened to the Monkees, the Beatles, the Oak Ridge Boys and The Who. He listened to J.S. Bach; he had Tchaikovsky. I had the same experience. We both had these 45 rpm records, and we would put them in a stack. One would drop down, and it would place automatically. Then, you’d be listening to classical, and then rock and roll. As a result, the music that Jonathan wrote is such a fusion of all these different styles that we ended up calling it “clazzy.”

We were separated after that. He moved to California. I got married, had three kids and went through a painful divorce. In 1996, I moved to Nashville. It turned out that he was living in Nashville. After living in California, he came back to Nashville, and he had published several books. His publishers confronted him to go out on a book tour. He thought the notion of reading a book sounded boring, so I contacted him in Nashville, and he said, “My publisher wants me to go out on this book tour. I don’t want to do that. But since you’re going out, why don’t we do a show together? We’ll combine readings and music.”

The show has evolved 15 to 20 times into what we call the SpiriTed presentation.

TRRT: What is the significance of SpiriTed? There is no “Ted” performing with you.

JC: It’s just that our graphic artist thought it was pretty.

Clazzy has three grown sons, of whom she is very proud. One is in China, married to a beautiful Chinese lady; they will arrive in the States in the fall, and she will be getting her MBA. Her oldest son works for a sound company named Brantley, which provides sound and light for traveling artists, such as Larry King. Her youngest son works for a company called Innovative Percussion.

From the June 1-7, 2011 issue

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