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Kevin Norton Trio: Integrated Variables

The title says almost all here, with drummer/marimba player Kevin Norton becoming variably integrated with improvisational playmates, bassist Mark Dresser and saxophonist George Cartwright. Together, they generate a small but rich ensemble sound, heavy on spontaneous instinct, with occasional structural fixtures supplied by Norton (i.e. the quirky “On Short Notice” and the restive, aptly-titled “Knots”). Cartwright, of Curlew fame, works fragmentary ideas and elliptical squeals into a personal voice, while Dresser goes inside and outside with his typical skill and Norton shifts from marimba to drums. The idea behind the CIMP label (Creative Improvised Music Projects, connected to Cadence), is to create a series of recordings with consistent parameters of sound, mostly recorded in the living room intimacy of “The Spirit Room.” What results is a clean and sometimes overly dry sound strictly unabetted by post-production effects-which isn’t always flattering to Norton’s drums on this project. But the spirit of the music transcends the humility of its sonic surface. And besides, humility in the face of the muse of improvisation is the point.

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