Self Release

From Baltimore to Brooklyn, Turn Around Norman’s shoulders carry years of experience in lots of diverse genres and impressive resumes flashing names such as Tim Berne, Uri Caine and Dave Douglas among the many partnerships. We Turn Around – their debut release – comprises nine tracks and lasts 70 minutes. The lineup is shaped as follows: Cam Collins (sax), JJ Wright (piano and Wurlitzer), Adam Hopkins (bass) and Nathan Ellman-Bell (drums). Positive features striking the ear since the very beginning: the genuine brio with which these gentlemen tackle every tune – a fervency substantiated by high-calibre musicianship – and the immoderate versatility that they show, allowing the quartet to shift the music’s gravity across a wide range of styles. From contemporary jazz-rock to lyrical soundtrack-ish themes; from jarringly dense improvisations to fractured metres in minimalist sauce, the guys handle whatever hot potato gets thrown at them with ease. The latter, regrettably, is also the reason behind my incomplete commendation. Despite the acknowledged strength of each member’s instrumental deftness, the band’s sound as a whole seems to scratch a lot of surfaces without really deepening the grooves – which, ultimately, results in a lack of definite personality. I don’t know if this was a deliberate move to gain the favours of varicoloured types of audience; upon repeated listens the inkling is that, in this case, the polyhedral façade might hide a hunt for critical laurels (translation: more copies sold) as the main goal, regardless of any value related to artistic permanence. It wouldn’t be a problem at all, but in this area the fight to see the light is against hundreds of similar specimens and, except when a unit produces something truly particular, this reviewer’s curiosity tends to dwindle.

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