Kevin Norton

Change Dance (Troubled Energy)

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AllMusic Review by

Kevin Norton has a good ear for talent and a strong sense of space and harmony. His recordings each tend to be different, although the common thread is a refusal to follow established patterns. This short suite is divided into sections featuring one or more players. Melody is important, though the primary focus is free improvisation, in which settings are established over which individuals or groups of two or more fly. Consummate musicianship abounds, with the three horns featured heavily. Trumpeter Dave Ballou is perhaps less identified with freestyle improvisation than the others, but he has no trouble fitting in -- perhaps not too surprising considering both his previous work with Norton on Knots and his own adventurous album, On This Day. The saxes offer contrasting visions -- Steve Lehman the more exuberant and Rachel Telesmanick more cerebral, although that may be too easy a generalization. Both are sophisticated performers, sculptors of sound who carve carefully along the edges. As to be expected, Norton plays center stage, both as a composer, a talent at which he seems to get better and better, and as an important soloist. Ultimately, it is the compositions and arrangements that shape the proceedings, including the disturbing finale, "Coda," with, as Bill Shoemaker writes in the liners, "a motif that melds European ambulance siren and ice cream truck jingle." The journey is a convoluted one, an intense and sometimes exhausting trip, even at times exhilarating.

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