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Norma Winstone (aka "Britain's best kept secret") is one of the UK's finest jazz vocalists; in addition to the twenty-plus albums made under her own name or as co-leader, she recorded with Wheeler and Taylor in their Azimuth trio and on Wheeler's own major recordings, Song For Someone (Incus, 1973) and Music for Large & Small Ensembles (ECM, 1990). She also appeared on seminal albums by Joe Harriott, and Amancio D'Silva's Hum-Dono (EMI Columbia, 1969) and Ian Carr's Labyrinth (Vertigo, 1973). Her own Edge Of Time (Argo, 1972), recorded with Taylor and the cream of British jazz, was a particularly impressive debut album.
This archival release was the result of an August 1988 concert given by Taylor and Winstone at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama scheduled with very little prior notice. Winstone's impressively fluid scat singing is evident throughout, particularly on numbers such as "Ladies In Mercedes," "The Glide" and "In Your Own Sweet Way," accentuating her natural talent for extemporisation and deploying the voice as an improvising instrument. Taylor's percussive "Coffee Time" is almost burlesque in its eccentricity, with Winstone entreating the audience to join in with handclapping and evincing some of her most wild scatting. The main piano part is a catchy Latin-esque sequence that modulates swiftly and frequently. Winstone's wondrous sustained high G, arriving within the final minute of "Celeste" is a magnificent example of her peerless vocal talent. What In Concert demonstrates above all else is the extraordinarily synergistic relationship that this virtuosic pair shared.
Track Listing: Lucky To Be Me; Ladies In Mercedes; Cafe; The Glide; In Your Own Sweet Way; Round Midnight / Midnight Sun; Coffee Time; Celeste.
Personnel: Norma Winstone: vocals; John Taylor: piano.
As a songwriter and vocalist, I love jazz for the experience of being in the center of intense creativity. It is the most potent form of music for keeping the artist and the audience in the 'now. Being in the moment is essential for humans, and we need help in learning how to do that. As a songwriter, I need the depth of musicality that jazz voicings can give my stories. My songs seem light and whimsical, but the message is not.
I met my main collaborator, Mark Fitzgibbon, at one of his gigs. I needed to do my first original album, and his playing was masterful, robust, and beautiful. At the time, I didn't realize how suited we were as a team. We're onto our 4rth album together.
My advice to new listeners is to listen to a really clear and simple version of a song so you can then hear what the musicians are doing and enjoy their creativity and musicality. Also, you have to see jazz live to appreciate it fully. You'll never feel it the same way listening to a CD or online. You need the vibration to go through your body to really get it!
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