All About Jazz

Home » Articles » CD/LP/Track Review

Dear All About Jazz Readers,

If you're familiar with All About Jazz, you know that we've dedicated over two decades to supporting jazz as an art form, and more importantly, the creative musicians who make it. Our enduring commitment has made All About Jazz one of the most culturally important websites of its kind in the world reaching hundreds of thousands of readers every month. However, to expand our offerings and develop new means to foster jazz discovery we need your help.

You can become a sustaining member for a modest $20 and in return, we'll immediately hide those pesky Google ads PLUS deliver exclusive content and provide access to future articles for a full year! This combination will not only improve your AAJ experience, it will allow us to continue to rigorously build on the great work we first started in 1995. Read on to view our project ideas...


Norma Winstone: Descansado - Songs For Films

John Ephland By

Sign in to view read count
Norma Winstone has had her current trio since 2001, long enough to have released five albums (four for ECM). Descansado, a celebration of cinema through the language of music, is that fourth CD, and it's a winner from start to finish. The album's title derives from a Armando Trovajoli composition, used in Italian director Vittorio De Sica's 1963 film Ieri, Oggi, Domani (Yesterday, Today, Tomorrow). The group's rendition of this touching number is typically sublime.

With bass clarinetist/soprano saxophonist Klaus Gesing and pianist Glauco Venier, the singer is once again both indistinguishable from her mates—all three being equally adept at spinning yarns, raveling and unraveling lines where you no longer hear a singer accompanied but instead a group of musicians in a kind of arranged musical chairs—and undeniably front and center with her voice.

Joining the trio for selected tracks on Descansado are percussionist Helge Andreas Norbakken and cellist Mario Brunello. Their contributions add a particular luster to certain arrangements that deepen and enlarge the instrumental palette and, thus, more instruments for Winstone's voice to get lost in, play with and accompany. While there are obviously no original compositions (unlike on their previous CDs), Descansado enjoys arrangements primarily by Venier, who was essentially the driver for the album's concept, not to mention chief selector of material. The liner notes include all of the songs' lyrics.

Michel Legrand wrote "His Eyes, Her Eyes" as one of the lead themes to Norman Jewison's 1968 film The Thomas Crown Affair. That was half a century ago, but the song could have been written for this album, and for Winstone, so perfectly suited is it to her impeccable grasp of the intimate, quiet, daringly melodic, with lyrics by Alan and Marilyn Bergman to match. Beginning Descansado, it is one of many examples where the trio works closely together, in a kind of gentle dance; in this case, they embrace Legrand's deliriously simple tune, a tune that has it all, lovely cadences, revealing words, a jazzy vibe, a platform for rumination between three extremely sympathetic artists performing as one.

The bulk of the music this trio has previously performed for ECM—on Distances (2008), Stories Yet To Tell (2010) and Dance Without Answer (2014)—embraces an unconventional waywardness that includes a connection to jazz but more often works in territory more suited to folk and classical realms. Descansado, while also employing similar strategies (for instance, on Dario Marianelli's lively ode "Meryton Town Hall" from Joe Wright's 2005 film Pride And Prejudice with lyrics by Winstone, and on Nina Rota's stately, mournful "What Is A Youth?" from Franco Zeffirelli's 1968 film Romeo And Juliet with cello and percussion added for emphasis) tacks toward a looser, more improvisatory, jazz sensibility, finding connections between film music and jazz that have been there ever since the first sound film, in 1927, with Al Jolson and The Jazz Singer.

There are two versions of Legrand's "Vivre Sa Vie" recorded, the music from the 1962 Jean-Luc Godard film of the same name. To quote from a recent Downbeat interview, Winstone recalls, "It was [producer] Manfred Eicher's idea. It wasn't one we were going to do. While we were talking about the music, I suppose because we did one Michel Legrand piece ['His Eyes, Her Eyes'], he suddenly said, 'Have you ever heard Legrand's music for Vivre Sa Vie?' And we hadn't. He said it's a favorite piece of film music, he loves it. So, after the first day's recording, when this was mentioned, both Glauco and Klaus transcribed it from the internet overnight and we recorded it the next morning. There's a very brief version with only piano that Manfred decided to put on at the very end."

Winstone's singing voice remains a constant, no matter who she's playing with, and regardless of content. Like Shirley Horn, she has taken the human voice—the female voice to be specific—and brought us close to her, or her to us, the effect at times part lullaby/bedtime story, part adult imagination given free reign. Not whispering, never belting, she's more than just easy on the ears, capable of moving us to tears, even if she's also capable of the subtle shock, a sudden twist, a harsh interlude. And with a magnetic talent for creating stunning musical alliances, Winstone seems to always end up with highly sympathetic colleagues. It is as if she has been cunning to get the right people all along, fully in control of not only her muse but theirs as well.

Track Listing: His Eyes, Her Eyes; What Is A Youth?; Descansado; Vivre sa vie; Lisbon Story; Malena; Il postino; Amarcord; Meryton Townhall; Touch Her Soft Lips And Part; Theme (So Close To Me Blues); Vivre sa vie. (48:35)

Personnel: Norma Winstone, voice; Klaus Gesing, bass clarinet, soprano saxophone; Glauco Venier, piano; Helge Andreas Norbakken, percussion; Mario Brunello, cello.

Title: Descansado - Songs For Films | Year Released: 2018 | Record Label: ECM Records


comments powered by Disqus

CD/LP/Track Review
Live Reviews
CD/LP/Track Review
Extended Analysis
CD/LP/Track Review
Read more articles

Related Articles

Read Mønk CD/LP/Track Review
by Chris May
Published: September 20, 2018
Read The Music of Gary Lindsay / Are We Still Dreaming CD/LP/Track Review
The Music of Gary Lindsay / Are We Still Dreaming
by Jack Bowers
Published: September 20, 2018
Read Hidden Details CD/LP/Track Review
Hidden Details
by John Kelman
Published: September 20, 2018
Read Selective Coverage CD/LP/Track Review
Selective Coverage
by Jim Olin
Published: September 20, 2018
Read Fat Daddy CD/LP/Track Review
Fat Daddy
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: September 19, 2018
Read Short Stories CD/LP/Track Review
Short Stories
by Gareth Thompson
Published: September 19, 2018
Read "Toy Tunes" CD/LP/Track Review Toy Tunes
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: June 16, 2018
Read "Desert Pulse" CD/LP/Track Review Desert Pulse
by Glenn Astarita
Published: October 30, 2017
Read "Schlitten" CD/LP/Track Review Schlitten
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: October 24, 2017
Read "Organ Monk Blue" CD/LP/Track Review Organ Monk Blue
by Jerome Wilson
Published: January 13, 2018
Read "Higher" CD/LP/Track Review Higher
by Jim Trageser
Published: August 16, 2018
Read "Along The Way" CD/LP/Track Review Along The Way
by Jack Bowers
Published: December 5, 2017