Kevin Norton

Plays the Music of Anthony Braxton

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Considering Anthony Braxton's prodigious output as a composer, it may seem curious that relatively few of his compositions have been recorded by others. This is partially due to their complexity and also, no doubt, to the difficulty in interpreting Braxton's non-traditional notation, something that the composer and those under his tutelage do best. As one of Braxton's prized disciples, Kevin Norton has spent years, mostly as a percussionist, familiarizing himself with Braxton's unique style. Here he expands his palette for Norton's most fully realized contribution on the vibraphone, an instrument on which Norton has shown, and displays here, serious creative skills. With partner Haewon Min, Norton attacks four compositions by Braxton with the unusual combination of vibes and piano, a deadly mixture that is surprisingly suited for these pieces. By altering velocity and dynamics, the duo virtually makes each song its own, sometimes smoothing the rough edges (a natural consequence of the vibes) and at others simply infusing a piece with different textures. At times, such as on "Composition 6n," Norton razzle-dazzles with his virtuosity. Min, while technically excellent and clearly with roots in classical music, seems occasionally oddly disconnected, sometimes over-romanticizing the music, while at others (as on "Composition No. 62") confronting its abstractions head-on. The recording time is short for a CD, and liner notes are sorely missed. Nonetheless, Norton and Min make an argument case for new and alternative versions of some of Anthony Braxton's work, particularly as is the case here, when they are performed sympathetically and knowledgably.