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A Fireside Chat with Kevin Norton

By Published: November 7, 2003

KN: We will see over time. I am glad that I put out the records that I have. They are all different pieces. It is really hard. I have a new one coming out now. It is myself and Joëlle Léandre and Tomas Ulrich. I think it is a great record. We worked really hard on it. But then, to get it out to people and get them to hear it, frankly, it takes up practice time. I allot a certain amount of time. I wouldn’t put anything out that I didn’t believe in a hundred percent, but, for instance, when I am mailing stuff and I try to get it out to the “right people,” I miss somebody and I just try not to get too wrapped up in that. Somebody emails me from Argentina. It could be a wonderful place to send a record to, it is just that time is up. If I did just that, it could easily be a full-time job. It can’t be because I need to practice.

FJ: The album you are referring to is Ocean of the Earth. Joëlle Léandre is one of the most recorded musicians in recent memory. Did you shop it around?

KN: This time I didn’t do that because I wanted this record on Barking Hoop. I wanted it recorded a certain way and I put a lot of work into it. I wasn’t about to have it compromised by a different label. I thought about it for a long time. I did think about some other labels and some other labels might have even jumped at it, but I also felt like it was just too good to give up to another label and perhaps have them alter it. For instance, I guess I can say this because I really like Bob Rusch and CIMP and Cadence, but I don’t think a CIMP recording with these three people would be, for me, the way I would want to do it. I would want to record it in a recording studio, closed miked, and I wanted to have the ability to mix the different voices after it was finished.

FJ: Rusch’s Spirit Room is a specifically unique space to record in and it may not always be conducive to every recording project.

KN: Right, and I think The Dream Catcher (CIMP) is a great record for that label. I also think that Integrated Variables (CIMP), my first record ever as a leader, is a great record on CIMP. I think for that kind of thing, because that is the way we play. That is the way that band played, right next to one another, the sound waves bouncing off one another. It is like what he says. It is like a concert. And we played those things like a concert and that is the way to approach that, but I didn’t think that was the way to approach this thing.

FJ: There is also a new release from the Euro label Clean Feed with your Metaphor Quartet. Considering it featured the late Wilber Morris, will the quartet continue?

KN: No, I didn’t want to continue without Wilber. We talked a little bit about that before he passed away. The music will continue on, but this band is very special. It has four very special personalities and people in it. Hitomi moved back to Japan, by the way, Fred. I just wanted to start another band. It is hard to explain because Wilber’s first anniversary of his death just passed. It was a really beautiful moment. I don’t want to destroy it by just replacing him. The concepts of that band are inside me and they will continue, but not that band.

FJ: Wilber Morris is one of the most under-appreciated bassists/composers in modern creative improvisation influencing both Coasts.

KN: And that was also part of my reasoning behind The Dream Catcher and doing some of his compositions. I know that “P.C.O.P.” is recorded, but I don’t know that “Melancholy” was recorded and “The Archer,” I don’t think that was recorded. That was part of it too, to draw attention to his life and his music.

FJ: You also have a new group with Paul Dunmall and Paul Rogers. The trio completed a recent East Coast tour. There were plans to record at Cadence’s Spirit Room.

KN: We made two great CDs for the CIMP label. The CDs are both indicative of what we played on that tour and different. Every night on that tour was fantastic. Some of the people in these various towns sent me recordings and videotapes of the concerts. They were all really great. I would like to play with those guys forever. I have ideas for written music and other instrumentation with the trio. It is just going to take some time to see what can happen with it. I am hoping that people hear the CIMP records. They are amazing records.

FJ: What are the release dates?

KN: The first one is coming out soon. Maybe, second week in September. That is called Rylickolum: For Your Pleasure. It is CIMP #289.

FJ: What is your practice regimen?

KN: If I could, that is all I would do. Eat, sleep, and that would be it. If it was really up to me, I get so much joy out of practicing. I get so much joy out of listening to a recording of a gig and writing down what I would like to work on. That is how I feel like I have grown and continue to grow. Practice is really an important part of that.

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