When you think of Kevin Norton, images of a pure soul, a rare example of a free thinker, and a musician with guts come to mind. Norton has long been publishing outstanding archival stuff that unjustly receives less exposure than it deserves, in addition to his more recent ventures.
Four works for various ensembles are included in this release, needless to say not directly related to jazz stereotypes (Norton appears quite upset about them – read the introductory notes). The set includes a gorgeous string trio, spoken word on an intricate contrapuntal basis (“I Dig Facts, Man” – how do you like that as a title?), and a tribute to Joëlle Léandre remotely recalling parts of certain orchestral pages from Frank Zappa’s production.
The biggest surprise may derive from the longest piece “The Rough Edges Suite,” which was written for an electric guitarist and two percussionists. Its completely original design brilliantly captures Norton’s desire to investigate and take into account every imaginable sonority. The most crucial thing is to keep thinking critically and asking questions. These components are present in considerable amounts here, even without high-fidelity sound.