188

Norma Winstone: Distances

C. Michael Bailey By

Sign in to view read count
Norma Winstone: Distances 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.

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


Tags

comments powered by Disqus

More Articles

Read Open Book CD/LP/Track Review Open Book
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: August 17, 2017
Read Stolen Moments CD/LP/Track Review Stolen Moments
by Jack Bowers
Published: August 17, 2017
Read Sonder CD/LP/Track Review Sonder
by Troy Dostert
Published: August 17, 2017
Read Putting Off Death CD/LP/Track Review Putting Off Death
by Glenn Astarita
Published: August 17, 2017
Read Albert Mangelsdorff And His Friends CD/LP/Track Review Albert Mangelsdorff And His Friends
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: August 16, 2017
Read Heaven On Their Minds CD/LP/Track Review Heaven On Their Minds
by Bruce Lindsay
Published: August 16, 2017
Read "Triplicate" CD/LP/Track Review Triplicate
by Doug Collette
Published: July 24, 2017
Read "Ljubljana" CD/LP/Track Review Ljubljana
by Glenn Astarita
Published: April 2, 2017
Read "Fe" CD/LP/Track Review Fe
by James Nadal
Published: August 30, 2016
Read "Omío" CD/LP/Track Review Omío
by James Nadal
Published: August 31, 2016
Read "Tributango" CD/LP/Track Review Tributango
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: December 13, 2016
Read "Of the Tree" CD/LP/Track Review Of the Tree
by Dave Wayne
Published: October 9, 2016

Sponsor: JANA PROJECT | LEARN MORE  

Support our sponsor

Join the staff. Writers Wanted!

Develop a column, write album reviews, cover live shows, or conduct interviews.