Pianist Cohn brought this ensemble together to explore new sounds in improvised chamber ensembles, finding the right voices with Kevin Norton, Tomas Ulrich, and Masahiko Kono.
Label: Red Toucan
Released in: Canada
"The Iro Iro band was formed during a period when I wished to bring some new ensembles together and used the Knitting Factory in New York to do it. I was currently still working with my chamber unit formed for the 1993 Miller Theater concert with Bass, french horn, violin and piano, shakuhachi, etc. I think my work with Thurman Barker was still in my mind. IÕve always loved the sound of vibes or marimba together with piano. But I was searching for new members. I became aware of Kevin Norton and checked him out at one of his gigs. I always reflect on the vibration of the person not just their music. Kevin had a nice spiritual side and I felt he would lend himself well to the shakuhachi and other ethnic and percussion instruments I use and also he played the orchestral percussion, drums and vibes like Thurman Barker.
The cello was exploring without bass and Kono had a Japanese simplicity to his playing and beautiful tone. His electronics were another avenue. Tomas had a good relationship with Kevin as they had also played many times together. Truly this ensemble in my opinion became magical almost immediately. The hichiriki and cello, the shakuhachi and trombone vibes cello. The playful exploring and the power of the blues and jazz feel.
Now add Jon Rosenberg, wonderful at live recording and two concerts of this music was beautifully captured. The Iro Iro band is an extension of my chamber quartet with very different colors and a whole new slew of personalities. I am very happy that Michel Passaretti showed such distinct interest in these recordings.
One more note about the name of this ensemble. Iro Iro is a Japanese word which means this and that or a variety of things, and the word Iro is the word for color."-Steve Cohn
• Show Bio for Kevin Norton
"Kevin Norton was born in Brooklyn and raised in Staten Island, NY. The composer/percussionist came to jazz in an unlikely setting but befriended drummer and fellow record collector Kenny Washington as a teenager. Studies at Hunter College introduced Kevin to Milt Hinton and after a short period, Kevin began to perform with Milt Hinton, eventually recording The Judge's Decision with a quartet led by Milt. Under Milt's encouragement, Kevin went back to school to get his Masters Degree from Manhattan School of Music.
After graduation he played every kind of gig available to a versatile percussionist: classical, jazz, blues, Dixieland, off-Broadway shows, rock, but especially taking part in the blossoming downtown New York City scene that strove to combine all these musics. This lead to him playing with Fred Frith's band Keep the Dog, which also included harpist Zeena Parkins and saxophonist John Zorn. Soon Mr. Norton was asked to play with a vast amount of downtown New York (sometimes called the Knitting Factory scene) ensembles. However, he longed to return to his jazz roots and began to play with downtown outsiders Phillip Johnston and Joel Forrester and their co-led band, the Microscopic Septet (and later Johnston's Big Trouble, with two CDs on Black Saint).
Still unsatisfied on a level of self-expression, Kevin began to devote himself to his own projects featuring his composition work and his improvising on total percussion (predominantly vibes and drums). Kevin has written several multi-movement pieces sometimes based on extra-musical subject matter. For Guy Debord (in nine events)is a piece for quintet and woodwind soloist (originally Anthony Braxton) based on the texts of the radical French philosopher whose thought proved central to the riots of Paris, 1968. Change Dance (Troubled Energy) draws it's inspiration from another radical political activist, Kathy Change (born Kathleen Chang). Both suites are approximately an hour in duration. On February 23, 2006 Kevin's Water and Fire Suite was premiered. It was commissioned as part of the national series of works from Meet The Composer Commissioning Music/USA, which is made possible by generous support from the National Endowment for the Arts, The Helen F. Whitaker Fund, and the Target Foundation.
In less than 10 years he has led and/or co-led about 20 critically acclaimed recordings, many of them making year-end "Best of" lists. On one of the recent recordings, Time-Space Modulator integrates intricate, sophisticated composition work with the deep improvisatory skills of Kevin, Tony Malaby, Dave Ballou and John Lindberg.
Kevin has also played with many highly esteemed European Improvisers such as Paul Rogers, Jo‘lle Lˇandre, Paul Dunmall and Frode Gjerstad. Also, for about ten years, Mr. Norton was Anthony Braxton's main percussionist in both the "ghost trance" phase and the "standards" phase, plotting out the course for all percussionists who followed him. His most recent projects include compositions for various sized chamber groups and a duo with pianist Connie Crothers.
In June of 2002, Kevin Norton was a resident composer at the prestigious MacDowell Colony. He has served on the faculty of several schools including the University of Maryland and is currently on the faculty of William Paterson University."-Kevin Norton website (http://www.kevinnorton.com/bio.html)
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NY Downtown & Jazz/Improv
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Label: Red Toucan
Catalog ID: RT 9334
Squidco Product Code: 10056
Packaging: Jewel Tray
Recorded January 31, 1999 at the Knitting Factory, NYC by Jon Rosenberg.
Steve Cohn-piano, shakuhachi, hichiriki, shofar, ektara, percussion
Kevin Norton-drums, vibes, percussion
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