Chris Norman

The Flower of Port Williams

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To call Chris Norman an Irish flute player isn't quite right -- while the wooden instrument he plays is the same kind as that favored by Irish players, and while he's a master of the Irish idiom, his career has spanned too many other traditions to allow him to be pigeonholed so easily. One constant influence in his solo work has been the music of his native Maritime Canada, and that's where the focus is on his latest solo album. The tunes come mainly from Quebec, Scotland, and Cape Breton, and Norman's approach is quite a bit jazzier this time out than it has been in the past, in particular on "The Gravenstein" (an original reel) and on a set of two Quebecois galopes, both of which are accompanied by drums and string bass. That's not necessarily a bad idea, but not everyone who has enjoyed Norman's previous solo work will be as taken with it. (Also, it's too bad the drum sound couldn't have been a bit better -- Brian Melick sounds like he's playing a box with brushes.) But the tunes are all very attractive, Norman's originals in particular, and his playing is as supple and light as ever. His best solo album is still The Man With the Wooden Flute, but The Flower of Port Williams is one for him to be proud of.

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