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World Music CD Reviews Reggae & Caribbean

Norman Hedman’s Tropique

By Michael Stone
Published March 30, 2007

Garden Of Forbidden Fruit
Power Light

Norman Hedman’s biography exemplifies the pan-Caribbean roots of New York’s vibrant Latin music community. Born in Jamaica and raised in 1950s New York, Hedman became an enthusiastic Latin jazz adherent, living at the musical nexus between African American, Latin and Caribbean cultures. Citing Chano Pozo, Mongo Santamaria and Willie Bobo as early influences, Hedman learned to play conga on the streets, shuttling from Brooklyn to Hunt’s Point in the Bronx, earning spare change from passengers while working out new rhythms on the ride home. His style also reflects Senegalese, Nigerian and other West African traditions, a product of work with Papa Laje, Chief Bae and Olatunji. On Garden Of Forbidden Fruit, Hedman’s septet (piano, keyboards, flute, alto sax, flugelhorn, vibes, bass, congas, timbales, percussion, and guest vocals) presents a cosmopolitan synthesis of the leader’s influences.