Yimba Rudo: Yimba Rudo

Jerome Wilson By

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The phrase "Yimba Rudo" means "Sing Love" in Zimbabwe's Shona language. It is also the name of this trio which brings together musicians from three different worlds. Vibraphonist Kevin Norton is a respected figure in the avant jazz sphere who has worked with the likes of Anthony Braxton and Paul Dunmall. Bassist Steve LaSpina is a veteran presence on the mainstream New York jazz scene who has played with everyone from Benny Carter to Carmen McRae. Drummer Jim Pugliese has had a wide-ranging career in rock, jazz and experimental music, performing with the New York City Ballet as well as playing the music of John Cage and Edgar Varese. Together these three men create carefully-balanced trio music that constantly shifts between dreamy and driving impulses.

The disc begins and ends with its most conventionally jazzy pieces, both written by Norton. "Reconcile the Classical View" starts things in ear-catching fashion with Norton's vibes ringing out a racing melody over LaSpina's and Pugliese's jogging tempo, and "Walking the Dogma" closes the disc with the rhythm section maintaining a steady but infectious groove while the vibes slip and slide. Between those two tracks, the rest of the CD is a constantly shifting stream of combinations of dreamy atmosphere and sharp attacks.

Some of the music creates a definite mood. "Moonstruck" carries a feeling of tingling anticipation as the bass and drums tremble behind Norton's chiming rumbles. Pieces like "Over and Inside the Rainbow" and "Polar Oscillation" are melancholy mood pieces in which descending bluesy patterns slowly decay into faint whispers and scrapes. LaSpina's "Winter Retreat" is a quietly downbeat work which could pass for an old Gary Burton track, with the composer's bowed bass and Norton's vibes weaving gently through a haunting melody.

Other pieces are spikier mixtures of abstraction and cohesive playing. "Tearing Down Walls" combines creeping vibes chords with forceful rhythm work. On "I Dig Facts, Man" Norton's halting runs eventually blossom into a lively tune buoyed by LaSpina's springy bass line. "Sacrifice Zone" presents a steady line of LaSpina's droning arco bass and Norton's muted, bell-like chords, given form and depth by Pugliese's cymbal washes and rattling noises. "The Faustian Bargain" is a sinister tumble of bowed bass, quiet cymbals and circular vibes patterns.

These musicians blend their individual styles together very well, creating a spacious field of sound. Their music draws you in with melodic fragments and accessible riffs then plunges into abstract passages that give the whole an air of mystery. This is an intriguing CD that draws a lot of fascinating music out of the vibes-bass-drums format.

Track Listing

Reconcile the Classical View; Toronto; Moonstruck; Winter Retreat; Over and Inside the Rainbow; The Faustian Bargain; Treace; Morph; Tearing Down Walls; Sacrifice Zone (ahead) (for Chris Hedges); Polar Oscillation; I Dig Facts, Man; Walking the Dogma.


Kevin Norton: vibraphone, percussion; Jim Pugliese: drums. percussion; Steve LaSpina: double bass.

Album information

Title: Yimba Rudo | Year Released: 2019 | Record Label: Barking Hoop



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