Biophilia Recordings
N o r t o n kNortonk2021The young players of the New York quartet Nortonk take inspiration from that great lineage of iconic, free-minded jazz bands without a harmony-establishing chordal instrument and stake their own claim with Nortonk, the group’s absorbing debut album.

Trumpet Thomas Killackey was born in Maryland in 1997. His key inspirations include Booker Little “because of the inspiring way he created melodies,” he says. “Booker’s linear playing sounds extraterrestrial in some contexts but completely familiar in others.” Woody Shaw is another, for his “complex harmonic knowledge,” he explains, and Ambrose Akinmusire, whose philosophy of “creating music for music’s sake, rather than fitting into any one genre, has really resonated with me.” About Killackey’s own playing, bandmate Gideon Forbes says: “Tom plays with such a natural, seemingly effortless musical instinct, always quick to listen and react to the band around him.”

Gideon Forbes was born in 1992, growing up in Vermont and Maine. The saxophonist’s influences range from the classic profundity of John Coltrane and searching lyricism of Lee Konitz to the contemporary voices of Chris Cheek and Jeremy Udden. “Chris Cheek has one of the most soulful ways of playing I’ve ever heard,” Forbes says. “He’s a virtuoso who takes the time to live in the sounds he creates. And Jeremy Udden inspires me to go deeper on my instrument, to find a sound that feels as personal as his.” Killackey says about Forbes: “As an alto player, Gideon’s melodic concept is singular, which keeps the audience – and the band – engaged, absorbed. He’s also a creative composer, bringing personal material to all our

Born in 1996, Stephen Pale grew up in the Philippines and then New Jersey. “Paul Chambers has been near and dear since I first started learning the bass,” he says. “His playing conveyed fun and lightheartedness, as well as sophistication. Ron Carter is another one – the ideal creative musician: so imaginative and full of surprises.” Among younger players, it’s Petter Eldh, a Swede whose “rhythmic acuity and powerful sound have been a big influence on my writing and approach to my instrument.” About Pale, Steven Crammer says: “As a bassist, Stephen really grounds the band. He has huge ears, as well as a beautiful sound that lifts everything around him.”

Drummer Steven Crammer was born in 1994 and raised just outside Allentown, Pennsylvania. His inspirations include “the vast imagination and instrumental virtuosity of Tony Williams, who was a real musical explorer, playing everything with a killer instinct.” Then there’s Ed Blackwell, for “capturing both the rhythmic and the melodic beauty of the drums,” Crammer says. He also admires his mentor Dan Weiss for “setting such a high standard on his instrument, with nothing off limits musically or technically” and Gerald Cleaver for “a sound that is so rich and full of life.” Pale says about his rhythm-section partner: “Steven has a carefully crafted musicality on the drums, always able to adapt to the players around him while maintaining his very personal sound.”