Jazzman Magazine

Paris, décembre 2000




Ken Norris

and the

Pierre Bertrand Trio: 

 Vers  ou? (Cristal Productions, France, 2000)



            Beware, a revelation: the talent of a real jazz singer, gifted with a superb musicality in the way in which he undulates on harmony. To situate the newcomer, for those who adore Kurt Elling and David Linx, you will feel at home. He also writes his own texts. They (Kurt and David) have both found exceptional partners personified by Laurence Hobgood and Diederik Wissels. Ken Norris, who lives in Paris, has called upon pianist Pierre Bertrand, noticed two years ago during the Martial Solal International Piano Competition. We can only regret the more reserved personalities of the bassist and drummer, but this is an artistic choice: to privilege the complicity between voice and piano, and to perceive them as devoted partners. A Child Is Born gives way to a passionate distance, whereas the Abstractions and Interludes series allow us to hear the flavor of experimentation and vivacious exchanges that make us impatient to discover this young man in a club setting. In a year of mediocre jazz vocals, thank you for daring.                François Dutheil



            We discover with Ken Norris a formidable singer with a surprisingly supple (flexible) voice. At ease in all tessitures, in l' Ivrogne he asserts his surprising presence. The good students who accompany him do not have his talent. Pierre Bertrand, the pianist for the session and also the composer, tried too hard, drowning his good ideas in an excess of notes. Too few really good musical themes, mostly redundant harmonies which uselessly complicate the work of the singer, too often in the background. Unfortunately, all of this is too scolaire: the musicians pay more attention to their instruments than to the music, technique foreclosing on emotion. Ken Norris deserves better than modest partners. Perhaps the next time?  

                                                                                                            Jean de Choqueuse