Yimba Rudo - Yimba Rudo

Label: Self released, 2019

Personnel - Kevin Norton: vibraphone, percussion; Steve LaSpina: double bass; Jim Pugliese: drums, percussion.


Yimba Rudo, an avant-jazz trio influenced by African rhythms and world music is composed of vibraphonist Kevin Norton, bassist Steve LaSpina, and drummer Jim Pugliese. These shakeups create a rhythmic tapestry that folds and unfolds according to their own decree. Their debut self-titled album embraces uncharted interactions and show their aptitude for freewheeling improvisation while keeping it within logic structural boundaries. All three members brought compositions to the 13-track Yimba Rudo, which means ‘sing love’ in Zimbabwe’s Shona language.

Norton’s warm vibes scamper through the opener, “Reconcile the Classical View”, and land on top of a bass groove in six and an unentangled snare drum work activated by brushes. The flow then breaks off to grant LaSpina his individual space, with Norton picking up the groove that once belonged to the bassist. Finally, it's Pugliese who cautiously exposes his self-thoughts.

Toronto” insinuates a busy, free ride through frantic vibraphone deliberations, but that doesn’t really happen. Instead, passages exploring timbre and space interweave with the gorgeously accented lines of the theme, expressed in the elated vein of Bobby Hutcherson. This is where the collective becomes more significant than any personal signature.

Cymbal sizzles introduce “Moonstruck”, a twitchy exercise that, although rambling free, involves that sensation of swing along with unbridled intensity.

LaSpina is pretty active with the arco on pieces where the atmosphere requires a deeper, more reserved sound, cases of “Winter Retreat”, a melodious reflection populated with metallic rattles and vibraphone ostinatos; “The Faustian Bargain”, which is adorned by cymbal variety; and “Treace”, whose initially plaintive cogitations veer into the more enthusiastic interplay.

Pugliese’s nifty number called “Morph” commingles singable melodic ideas and rhythmic focus, whereas the conversational “I Dig Facts, Man”, a Norton original, is buoyed by sharp unisons and synced rhythmic details. The mutations and improvisational flair compel the listener to stay alert throughout.

The trio wraps the session with another Norton composition: “Walking The Dogma”, whose interactive jolt consists in a sturdy bass pedal, luminous ride cymbal guidance, and a lilting, slightly bluesy vibe that enchants.

The musicians are in permanent control of the surfaces they kept playing on, and if rhythm and pulse are central to their attractive fluidity, then melodic development it’s like the cherry on top.

Grade  B+

Grade B+

Favorite Tracks:
02 - Toronto ► 12 - I Dig Facts, Man ► 13 - Walking The Dogma