West Coast freelance bassist Norm Stockton describes his instrumental music as, "contemporary jazz, but with wide influences including funk, fusion, rock, West African, and even a bit of classical." Indeed, not to mention an extroverted electric bass style that somehow retains the sheer technical power of Jaco Pastorius
without the hubris. Stockton currently plays with the worship band Lincoln Brewster; when not doing that, he is producing various projects in his Orange County, California home base.
Tea in The Typhoon is very much and instrumental collaborative effort between Stockton and a host of his contemporary colleagues that included bassists John Patitucci
and Etienne Mbappe, pianists Rob Mullins
and Rob Rinderer, drummers Gregg Bissonette and David Owens and trumpeter Larry Williams
throughout. With such a lineup, Stockton achieves the near impossible: Tea in The Typhoon
remains Stockton's recording, providing him with much compositional and performance space. Stockton is never over the top; he presents his music and playing on an equal footing with his collaborators, without either fading into the background or blinding everyone in the foreground.
Stockton's compositions are firmly contemporary jazz without bleeding into the "adult contemporary" or "smooth jazz" arenas. "At the Behest of Penelope & 26" and the title piece are tautly constructed, angular jazz with snapping rhythm and time. Stockton's keyboard players, Mullins and Rinderer, prove themselves capable in all categories of jazz, even weaving older forms into Stockton's contemporary fabric.
The covers are most provocative. U2's "Sunday Bloody Sunday" is given a dreamy reading, with Larry Williams playing a Tomasz Stanko
-style of introverted trumpet. "Send in the Clowns" highlights Stockton's lyrically driven bass playing and Bach's "Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring" is a splendid solo piece for Stockton. Airy and tight, Tea in The Typhoon
is refreshing for its understated elegance and intelligently-paced swing.
Personnel: Norm Stockton: basses; Gregg Bissonette: drums; Lincoln Brewster:
guitar; Keith Felch: saxophones, clarinet; Tony Guerrero: trumpet,
flugelhorn; Michael Manring: basses; Etienne Mbappe: basses, vocals;
Rob Mullins: keyboards; David Owens: drums, percussion; John
Patitucci: basses; Sachi Patitucci: cello; Rob Rinderer: keyboards;
Kevin Rogers: guitar; Larry Williams: trumpet, flugelhorn.