There’s generally two different kinds of "tribute" albums: those that present respectful (usually) or skewed (occasionally) versions of tunes by an inspirational figure, then there’s those that are chiefly "dedications" lamenting the loss/celebrating the life of a fallen comrade/inspiration. The Dream Catcher
is primarily the latter, a requiem to the late bassist/composer Wilbur Morris (though it does feature three Morris tunes).
Percussionist/composer Kevin Norton is not only a fine, imaginative drummer, but he thrives in a variety of (seemingly) disparate contexts: he’s played with Slam Stewart, Anthony Braxton, Fred Frith and David Krakauer as well as leading his own groups. Here he’s an unusually self-effacing player, one who can storm and swing yet also lets the silences speak for themselves. Norton can crackle like Sunny Murray on trap drums and sing with a delicately simple, crystalline, heart-wrenching lyricism on vibes. Cellist Tomas Ulrich has a poignant, verdant, tears-of-sound tone, and he excels as a textural player and soloist. If there is a "star" here - and make no mistake, this is a mos def a "group" music - it’s Roy Campbell, whose usual Brave-New-World brashness is tempered by the elegiac tone of the compositions in particular and the session in general (though he does get to roar now ‘n’ again). The overall tone/style of this session is not easy to pigeonhole - it’s back-and-forth and an "overlap" betwixt Hard Bop, Third Stream and Free/avant jazz -- mostly it's somber, but in a non-overbearing manner, w/ some semi-"wild" outbursts. The only downside to this fine album is the recording quality: while very warm and "natural" the drums are a little too upfront and the bass and cello not enough so - and sometimes the sound quality in that "hi-end" area is a tad harsh. Still, for them that like their "out" jazz to have accessible context/structure or the adventurous listener in general, this memorable Dream
is worth the chase...a dream that will linger awhile.