Flying High...

The project, FLYING HIGH… AT THE HEART OF IT (Part 1) – Featuring Gary Burton, was written intentionally by Norton for an octet. Using the analogy of chemistry, the simple Octet Rule – where atoms are most stable when their valence shells are filled with eight electrons – was very much in mind. Norton applied this concept to the compositions and orchestration of his octet. The octet creates perfect musical chemistry using percussion instruments, guitar, violin, double-bass, cello, drums, piano, flute and even incorporating extra vocals.

The virtuosity of eight musicians merges into a single language; a unique chemistry that flows from the stage leaving audiences spellbound. An eclectic show with a sophisticated scenic component; where dance, shadows and light accompany a unique musical experience.

This album is a heartfelt and dramatic world music project. Audiences are taken on a trip of the composer’s experiences; accompanying him as he roams and discovers the world. His path crosses various musical currents: from the classical period to modern jazz; passing through African, Celtic, Brazilian and, unmistakably, Portuguese cultures. FLYING HIGH … AT THE HEART OF IT (Part 1) was born out of this journey and celebrates via Norton’s guitar and octet,  the miles he experienced. This is his heart talking to his mind and what was ultimately produced from those handwritten notes placed in his pocket en route.

Sandro plays both acoustic and electric guitars depending on the theme of the piece. We hear his stunning bespoke acoustic guitar, “PILAR”, with various tunings, percussive right and left hand finger style pieces with impressive tapping techniques all over the guitar: a delight to watch live as well as to hear! Equally his electric guitar lines are impressive and colourful with a story to tell.

The concept of FLYING HIGH ….AT THE HEARTH OF IT is for Norton to invite guest musicians to perform the pieces live together, so they can add their own response to the scene of the albums compositions. Internationally acclaimed US jazz vibraphonist, Gary Burton, was the first to do this at Portugal’s top three concert venues in 2016. The first album, with additional live tracks featuring Gary Burton, is Part 1 of a forthcoming trilogy.

GARY BURTON Liner NOTES

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Like you might expect in the 21st century, I met Sandro Norton online, exploring various musical issues. As we got better acquainted, Sandro wondered if I would be interested in coming to Portugal to play with his musicians. After a year or so of working out details, I was on my way to Lisbon and Porto for a couple of very enjoyable weeks of concerts. This was one of my last touring projects before moving on to retirement, so it has remained quite memorable for me. I had already learned that Sandro Norton was the leading jazz guitarist in Portugal, and it’s probably fair to say he is also the leading jazz musician in Portugal.

For my trip to Portugal, I really got to connect with great players and discover new music. We rehearsed and prepared a mix of pieces composed by Sandro, and some by his musicians and myself. The styles of music covered a pretty big range, so it

made for very interesting performances. We played in Lisbon first, then Porto, Sandro’s home town, which soon became my home too, for my visit. The audiences for all the concerts were warm and supportive, truly enjoying the music. I liked the combination of instruments, it was especially a treat to have violin and harmonica in the group, both expertly played by Luis Trigo. One thing I noticed about a typical Sandro Norton concert, there were a lot of guest musicians included, as well as singers. That created a lot of variety, which is fun for us musicians since the setting keeps changing. And I was very impressed by the other members of Sandro’s main group: along with Luis, there was pianist Joao Salcedo, drummer Mario Barreiros, and Carlos Barreto on bass.

As for the leader and producer for all this music, it was a great pleasure to work with Sandro. I had become familiar with his guitar playing from hearing him on recordings before we met in person. Still it was a revelation to not only hear Sandro play live, but also to discover that we had a very easy time playing together. There is a magic that happens when improvising musicians find easy rapport. With Sandro, it was like we had been playing together for four or five years already, instead of for just four or five concerts. Sandro is not only quite a versatile guitarist, he also is a very prolific composer and I found his music very natural to play. These concerts were some of the easiest and most fun that I can recall.

We had not intended on making a recording, so the final surprise was that a decent professional-quality recording from a concert was saved and now we have “ FLYING HIGH, “ which is actually the final recording project of my career. I am pleased that it will be available for listeners around the world, and that there is now a historic documentation of my very lovely collaboration with Portugal’s best in jazz.

We had not intended on making a recording, so the final surprise was that a decent professional-quality recording from a concert was saved and now we have “ FLYING HIGH, “ which is actually the final recording project of my career. I am pleased that it will be available for listeners around the world, and that there is now a historic documentation of my very lovely collaboration with Portugal’s best in jazz.

Live Performances

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