Kevin Norton was born in Brooklyn and raised in Staten Island, NY. The composer/percussionist came to jazz in an unlikely setting but befriended drummer and fellow record collector Kenny Washington as a teenager. Studies at Hunter College introduced Kevin to Milt Hinton and after a short period, Kevin began to perform with Milt Hinton, eventually recording The Judge's Decision with a quartet led by Milt. Under Milt's encouragement, Kevin went back to school to get his Masters Degree from Manhattan School of Music.
After graduation he played every kind of gig available to a versatile percussionist: classical, jazz, blues, Dixieland, off-Broadway shows, rock, but especially taking part in the blossoming downtown New York City scene that strove to combine all these musics. This lead to him playing with Fred Frith's band Keep the Dog, which also included harpist Zeena Parkins and saxophonist John Zorn. Soon Mr. Norton was asked to play with a vast amount of downtown New York (sometimes called the Knitting Factory scene) ensembles. However, he longed to return to his jazz roots and began to play with downtown outsiders Phillip Johnston and Joel Forrester and their co-led band, the Microscopic Septet (and later Johnston's Big Trouble, with two CDs on Black Saint).