188

Norma Winstone: Distances

C. Michael Bailey By

Sign in to view read count
Practice brings one closer to perfection. British singer Norma Winstone has enjoyed a very prolific 35-plus year career that has been divided among a number of recording labels. Her recordings with John Taylor and Kenny Wheeler in the form of the group Azimuth brought her international exposure and recognition. These formats were the unusual combination of voice, piano, and either horn or reeds. This spare instrumentation and arrangement qualifies what Winstone does as chamber jazz.

On her first ECM release in almost 10 years, Winstone returns to this spare format with pianist Glauco Venier and reeds player Klaus Gesing (both making their ECM debuts). The recording was committed in spacious confines that effectively expand the disc's sonics. This naturally separates the participants' individual sonic marks, efficiently deconstructing the music. This deconstruction does not harm the performance rather it brings into sharper focus each musician's contribution.

The perfect illustration of this is the free-Caribbean-Calypso "Song for England." Klaus Gesing establishes the tempo and tone with bass clarinet, weaving an island figure that is both simple and deliciously rich. Glauco Venier's piano compliments Gesing's vision, occasionally joining it in peppered unison. Winstone displays her tasteful vocal wares with worded and non-worded expression, finishing the piece as sunlight finishes a dry martini my shining through it.

But "Song for England" is only a prelude to a recital that includes a wonderfully unorthodox take on John Coltrane's "Giant Steps" and a completely (and beautifully un-tethered) "Every Time We say Goodbye." There are no other jazz vocal offerings that can compete with this finely refined collection (except for Winstone's previous recordings).

Distances may be an experiment, or a concept stripped down to its essence, fully elaborated. It may be art practiced at an unusually high level of capability or competency. What it is not, however, is just one more jazz vocal offering clotting and confusing an increasingly anemic jazz marketplace.

The vast majority of jazz vocal recordings released each year are good. A considerably smaller percentage might even be termed great. It is but a rarified number that can be considered exceptional. Distances is such a recording.

Track Listing

Distance; Every Time We Say Goodbye; Drifter; Giant's Gentle Stride (based on Giant Steps); Gorizia; Ciant; The Mermaid; Here Comes the Flood; Remembering the Start of a Never Ending Story; A Song for England.

Personnel

Norma Winstone: voice; Klaus Gesing: soprano saxophone, bass clarinet; Glauco Venier: piano.

Album information

Title: Distances | Year Released: 2008 | Record Label: ECM Records

Tags

Shop for Music

Start your music shopping from All About Jazz and through our retail affiliations you'll support us in the process.


MUSICSTACK

Rare vinyl LPs and CDs from over 1,000 independent sellers

AMAZON

CDs, Vinyl, Blu-Ray DVDS, Prime membership, Alexa, SONOS and more

HD TRACKS

Specializing in high resolution and CD-quality downloads

CD UNIVERSE

Specializing in music, movies and video games

REVERB

Marketplace for new, used, and vintage instruments and gear

More

Read Bluebeard
Bluebeard
Yuri Honing Acoustic Quartet
Read Battle Lines
Battle Lines
Steve Fidyk
Read Calling
Calling
Anansi Trio
Read That Time
That Time
London Jazz Composers Orchestra
Read Day By Day
Day By Day
Cory Weeds
Read Silver Dollar
Silver Dollar
Jason Stein
Read Four Questions
Four Questions
Arturo O'Farrill and the Afro Latin Jazz Orchestra