Marius Nordal

Notoriety

origin 82361

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MUSIC REVIEW BY Dave Nathan, All Music Guide

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It's easy to classify a jazz performer as a journeyman when he/she isn't well-known, doesn't have a slew of CDs, awards, or other accouterments of fame. Perhaps that's OK now and then, but not in the case of Marius Nordal. Working out of the jazz-rich Northwest U.S., he has carved himself a niche by working gigs, doing big band arrangements, teaching, and, in all cases, being a consummate master of the keys. On his initial album for the Origin label, Nordal wheels out all his stylistic cannons. "Billy Boy" is a rip-roaring, high-speed dazzler where the entire keyboard gets swept over in the process. Contrast that to a melodic and sometimes slightly off center, but serenading, "But Beautiful," with its striking coda, and one finds that Nordal is comfortable no matter what the pace or intricacy of the arrangement. "Smiles" is not only the vehicle for more lyrical pianism and twisting improvisation, but for Doug Miller's billowing bass lines undulating underneath, as well as in, solo mode. Nordal contributed three of his originals to the program, including the title tune "Notoriety." Originally written and charted for big band, in trio format it gives each member of the team an opportunity to stretch out, allowing for some personal improvisation, as well as a well-aimed drum break by John Bishop. This is the first track on the CD, and if it was put there to encourage listeners to stay aboard, it worked. The approach to "Cherokee" is an unusual one. The main track is preceded by a three-plus minute intro where Nordal's interpretation shows both Thelonious Monk and Art Tatum influence. Every cut on this is top-flight piano playing by a skilled and imaginative practitioner. Recommended.






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