Kevin Norton

The Dream Catcher

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A student of Anthony Braxton, Kevin Norton has built on an enviable foundation and forged a niche uniquely his own, as this recording exemplifies. The percussionist expresses himself poetically, yet at least here the analogy is not so much to post-modernism, but to something that simply blends romanticism with a unified poetic freedom. The album is dedicated to the late, great bassist Wilber Morris who died before the recording was made and was replaced, reservedly, by Hill Greene, who proves himself a fully competent substitute. (The group performs three of Morris' tunes, a collective highlight.) The unusual combination of drums, trumpet, bass, and cello works remarkably well, and Norton's vibes add an extra dimension. There are many highpoints: The varied styles, skirting back and forth among Hard Bop, the so-called Third Stream, and Free Jazz; the stunningly gorgeous sounds of Tomas Ulrich, whom producer Bob Rusch rightfully writes is "…quite simply, one of the most exciting string improvisers playing…"; the gentle side of giant trumpeter Roy Campbell, who shows a rarely revealed sensitive; the focused, confident sounds of bassist Hill Greene; and most importantly, the strong compositional and improvisational skills of Kevin Norton, who might remind you of a thoroughly prepared skydiver who never crashes. Whether on vibes or drums, Norton relishes the complex thrills of odd time signatures and blends of notes. His closing rendition of Wilber Morris' "Melancholy" is not only a fitting remembrance of the bassist but also an unusual opportunity to hear the vibes performed with such soulful expression.

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