Jazz CD Reviews

Norma Winstone – Distances – ECM

Instead of the vocalese voice-as-an-instrument approach of Azimuth, Winstone here has put together a “songs band.”

Published on May 6, 2008

Norma Winstone – Distances – ECM
Norma Winstone – Distances – ECM 2028, 52:06 **** [Release date: May 6, 08]:

(Norma Winstone, voice; Klaus Gesing, soprano sax & bass clarinet; Glauco Venier, piano)

This is the first ECM album from noted English jazz vocalist Winstone in a decade. She is well known for her five CDs with the trio Azimuth (with John Taylor and Kenny Wheeler).  Instead of the vocalese voice-as-an-instrument approach of that group, Winstone here has put together a “songs band” for some very chamber music-like interpretations of songs. In fact, for a clear demonstration of this, check out her cover version of Cole Porter’s Every Time We Say Goodbye; accompanied only by bass clarinet, she presents Porter’s lyrics in a low-key, affecting style whose purity and depth place it alongside any Schubert lieder.

Winstone performed originally as a guest with her two new collaborators eight years ago and was impressed with their skills as both unusual performers and imaginative composers. Four of the tracks on this CD are collaborations with one of the other of them, Winstone having been responsible for the poetic lyrics. Reed man Gesing has a unique sound on bass clarinet and has been influenced by Bulgarian music.  Pianist Vernier has played with many Italian jazz and international performers and has the chops to draw on classical and folk influences as well as jazz. Winstone has selected a wide range of songs involving connections to John Coltrane, a free calypso, an Erik Satie song combined with a Pasolini film theme, and even one by Peter Gabriel.  I tend to be drawn to wordless vocal work, but Winstone’s lyrics and delivery are so compelling that she has me just as captured by her sensitive songs as did the best of the Azimuth albums.

TrackList:
Distance
Every Time We Say Goodbye
Drifter
Giant’s Gentle Stride
Gorizia
Ciant
The Mermaid
Here Comes The Flood
Remembering The Start Of A
Never Ending Story
A Song for England

 - John Henry

 




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