Search - Walter Norris :: Sunburst

Walter Norris
Genres: Jazz, Pop
  •  Track Listings (9) - Disc #1


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CD Details

All Artists: Walter Norris
Title: Sunburst
Members Wishing: 1
Total Copies: 0
Label: Concord Records
Release Date: 11/26/1991
Genres: Jazz, Pop
Styles: Modern Postbebop, Bebop
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaCD Credits: 1
UPCs: 013431448624, 013431448648

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CD Reviews

Fine mainstream jazz
N. Dorward | Toronto, ON Canada | 01/18/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)

"Walter Norris is a veteran West-Coast pianist who remains familiar to most jazz fans from his least characteristic recording date: he was called in as a pianist for Ornette Coleman's first LP for Contemporary--an important date, but Coleman hardly needed a pianist. He has recorded a couple discs for the German label Enja as a leader, and Concord has more recently thrown him a welcome lifeline. He's a truly marvellous & original player, & deserves a much higher profile in the music then he's got. Like a number of his contemporaries (Lou Levy & Roger Kellaway come to mind) he has a distinctively adventurous, exploratory harmonic sensibility that pushes the music into riskier territory than is usual for Concord; he also has remarkably commanding chops, which are informed by a grounding in classical music (in one album's liner notes he talks a bit about his admiration for Chopin). He gets a very bright sound out of the piano, & his solos have a rhythmic sensibility that's quite unique (slippery, branching, accelerating-and-decelerating lines that often reach confidently out for ringing intervals in the treble). His readings of standards are always carefully thought out, often with extensive & challenging reharmonization (check out for instance his take on "Ruby My Dear" or "Laura" on _Love Every Moment_, another of his Concord discs).This disc matches Norris with the great Joe Henderson, who is in good latterday form: it's an unexpected stylistic pairing that probably wouldn't have worked back in the 1960s when Henderson was in his firebrand stage but in the 1990s catches both players late in their careers, a pair of wise old owls. The rhythm section is not the centre of the action but is usefully youthful & thus not inclined to take things easy: it includes a young Larry Grenadier (now better known for his anchoring Brad Mehldau's trio) & a drummer I don't otherwise know, Mike Hyman. The material is a mix of mostly fairly familiar standards ("Naima", "What's New", "Stella by Starlight", &c) & a few Norris originals, of which the best is the closing "Rose Petals", a lovely trio performance. Henderson is in genial form, & this stands as tall as any of his 1990s discs under his own name: check out in particular the surprisingly forceful reading of "Naima" on here, & the entirely uncliche'd version of "Stella by Starlight". My only complaint here is that the sequencing of the album is a tad odd--the first 3 tracks are fine, but it's only with the 4th, "Naima" that the album hits top gear. Still, there's nothing bad here, & it's an album that will please anyone looking for intelligent mainstream jazz. The key to Norris's music is its warm, rhapsodic romantic sensibility (witness his opening out-of-tempo solo on "Rose Petals") that nonetheless is never soggy or self-indulgent. Give it a listen."