Norman Hedman

One Step Closer

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For his second CD, NYC percussionist Hedman uses a variety of small emsembles with varying personnel to create several forms of Afro-centric and Afro-Cuban musics. He wrote or co-wrote nine of the 12 pieces. They're all very pleasant, nice and easy to listen to -- not "smooth," just cool, much like the welcome breeze of a good working air conditioner. There's a real sense of teamwork, shared commitment and a consistency that can be commended. He hears it as more than just Latin jazz. During the program, and it's quite unmistakable, you hear a thoroughly formulaic, laid-back piano-saxophone melodicism that is the music's core. It's not the burn-the-house-down type, but more of a quiet fire. Alto saxophonist Talib Kibwe straddles the line between jazz and pop. Pianist Glen Pearson has a fine sense of solid colors. The gorgeous "La Perdida" most accurately exemplifies this asethetic. It's written by timbales player Willie Martinez, sporting a shimmering, vibes-fronted melody that drips of stark romanticism. On another cut, "Shades of Magenta," pianist Hilton Ruiz makes a cameo and gets things simmering, then roiling. Andrienne Wilson and Craig Rivers add other colors on flutes on select tracks, together on "I Caught Your Smile," "Hed-Theme" heats up more and brims with a confidence that leads to the best of communal music making. Hedman is not a spectacular player, but leads through example as an equal partner of the ensemble. In the liner notes, Hedman states "good music is good music...I'm doing good music," and we'll go along with that.

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