Norma Winstone: Distances


Sign in to view read count
Norma Winstone: Distances Nostalgia is a good thing. Who has not experienced some sort of catharsis through the unexpected surging of special, tender memories? Time stops. An emotive film starts rolling inside the mind. One wanders back to a time when life was good...

Those fortunate to have witnessed the magic between trumpeter Kenny Wheeler, pianist John Taylor and vocalist Norma Winstone may still cherish fond memories of the music they made from 1977 to 1995 for ECM under the Azimuth sobriquet.

Distances, Winstone's first recording for the German label in over a decade, sees her flanked by pianist Glauco Venier and reedman Klaus Gering. The comparison to Azimuth thus becomes inevitable. And, although opting for such a premise is quite unfair for her new acolytes, the project nevertheless proves an ersatz to something else, something memorable, something grand. Similarly immaculate in its performance, and as classy in its chamber-esque aesthetic, one finds this trio lacking Azimuth's sense of musical adventure and memorabilia.

Both trained under the aegis of the European Conservatory pedagogical system, Gening and Venier are flawless, rigorous instrumentalists. Winstone herself is contemporary jazz's vocal maiden. Her pure, virgin tone draws an appeasing, cozy bubble that can somewhat be akin to a soft, motherly embrace. Strong of a 40-year experience sharing the stage with England's wiliest freewheelers, Winstone retains a child-like innocence in her singing not found since the great Ella Fitzgerald. Although diametrically opposed in terms of style, both use their voice in an instrumental idiom and share a playful approach to performing.

Besides her obvious vocal qualities and charisma, a propensity for recording the occasional "little" tune from the Tin Pan Alley songbook conversely disserves the Londonian songstress. "Alice in Wonderland" on the brilliant Like Song, Like Weather (Endoc, 1999) sounded out of context, as did "Hi Lili Hi Lo" and "Tea For Two" on Somewhere Called Home (ECM, 1987). Here, Cole Porter's "Every Time We Say Goodbye"'s static melody and minimalist arrangement dulls the mood. Though minor, song selection clearly remains an issue.

The last four tracks are where things get more gripping. With Venier's muffled bass and harp-like string brushing, "The Mermaid" recalls the splendid rendition of "Lazy Afternoon" from Like Song.... For its neat dynamic and harmonic contrasts, Peter Gabriel's cataclysmic "Here Comes the Flood," is a most welcomed addition, as is the improvised calypso, "A Song For England." " Remembering the Start of a Never Ending Story;" a challenging melody by little-known composer Hubert Nuss, showcases Winstone's superior control, vocal range and overlooked talent as lyricist.

Not her best outing, Distances nevertheless finds Winstone in a great form and finally closes the gap on a long overdue return to the prestigious label. Now, if only Wheeler and Taylor could rejoin her...for the sake of nostalgia.

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


comments powered by Disqus

More Articles

Read The Attic CD/LP/Track Review The Attic
by John Sharpe
Published: July 24, 2017
Read Outside The Comfort Zone CD/LP/Track Review Outside The Comfort Zone
by Roger Farbey
Published: July 24, 2017
Read # 1 CD/LP/Track Review # 1
by Troy Dostert
Published: July 24, 2017
Read Tetrawind CD/LP/Track Review Tetrawind
by Geannine Reid
Published: July 24, 2017
Read Triplicate CD/LP/Track Review Triplicate
by Doug Collette
Published: July 24, 2017
Read Ballet: The Music Of Michael Gibbs CD/LP/Track Review Ballet: The Music Of Michael Gibbs
by C. Michael Bailey
Published: July 23, 2017
Read "Michael Shrieve's Spellbinder" CD/LP/Track Review Michael Shrieve's Spellbinder
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: August 15, 2016
Read "Sir Nebula" CD/LP/Track Review Sir Nebula
by Doug Collette
Published: September 18, 2016
Read "Matador 4" CD/LP/Track Review Matador 4
by Hrayr Attarian
Published: December 31, 2016
Read "Double Septet" CD/LP/Track Review Double Septet
by Glenn Astarita
Published: September 10, 2016
Read "Polygon" CD/LP/Track Review Polygon
by Pascal-Denis Lussier
Published: May 21, 2017

Support All About Jazz: MAKE A PURCHASE  

Support our sponsor

Upgrade Today!

Musician? Boost your visibility at All About Jazz and drive traffic to your website with our Premium Profile service.