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Drummer/percussionist and modern jazz composer Kevin Norton continues to infuse previously applied concepts and practices into novel ways and means of exploring the outer boundaries of swing, bop and improvisation, witnessed on this trio set titled, In Context/Out of Context.
Norton along with frequent collaborators, saxophonists Bob DeBellis and David Bindman embark upon the bass-less trio route as the band explores rhythmic variations in concert with, alternating dialogue and triggered responses. The leader commences the production with a shrewdly concocted percussion solo on “Tabula Rasa” as the artist implements odd-metered beats amid brief rests, monstrous press rolls and flickering rim shots via a controlled sense of urgency. Bindman and DeBellis announce their presence on “Where?”, as the saxophonists pursue metronome-like accents and circular motifs in support of Norton’s recognizable interrogation of cadence.
This band also excels at melding ferocious swing and free-bop lines with Norton’s polyrhythmic and altogether expansive developments. However the leader tempers the proceedings with a vibes solo on “Tinkle Sport” which is all about subtle tones, fascinating harmonic construction, variegated patterns and counterbalancing rhythmic sequences. Otherwise, the musicians seamlessly transform matters into heterogeneous regions of sound consisting of whimsical themes, quiet interludes and articulate three-way conversation, atop sub-plots and quixotic passages. Overall, this 2000 effort provides the listener with a hodgepodge of contrasting elements in concurrence with sparkling interplay and lucid soundscapes. Recommended!
*It is also worth citing Norton’s wonderful 1998 sextet venture for the “Music & Arts” label titled, “Knots”, featuring Bindman, DeBellis, cellist Tomas Ulrich, bassist Joe Fonda and clarinetist David Krakauer. (Additional reviews of Norton’s recordings as a leader and in a supporting role can be found in the February 2001 edition of AllAboutJazz.com/ modern jazz section.