381

Norma Winstone, Glauco Venier and Klaus Gesing at Joe's Pub

Budd Kopman By

Sign in to view read count
Norma Winstone at Joe's Pub, NYC
Joe's Pub
New York City, New York
June 26, 2008

Vocalist Norma Winstone came to Joe's Pub for two sets with her new trio composed of pianist Glauco Venier and reedman Klaus Gesing, supporting her release on ECM, Distances (2008). In front of a packed, enthusiastic, early-set house, the trio gave a mesmerizing performance that highlighted their strength as a unit, as well as each player's unique musical identity.

Anytime an ECM group performs, there is the question of how the fabled "immense immediacy" that is one of the main characteristics of the "ECM sound" will translate in live performance. The answer was not long in coming. The sound at Joe's Pub is quite clear and transparent, and despite the piano's being a bit too loud and the reeds a bit too soft, the emotional immediacy of the trio's music was communicated directly with a combination of poignancy and good humor.

While Winstone was the headliner, there is no doubt that she would give as much, if not more, credit to her musical compatriots, Venier and Gesing. The chemistry between the three is evident, heart-warming to watch as well as hear. Winstone's work with the trio Azimuth (with pianist John Taylor and trumpeter Kenny Wheeler), on ECM recordings spanning the years 1977 to 1995, accounts for her reputation as a vocal instrumentalist rather than a singer of songs.

It is this history that makes the current group so interesting in that while the group's spare instrumental sound recalls Azimuth's, the emphasis here is on music with words. However, the result is not strictly songs in the commonplace sense, since the originals are musical pieces composed by Venier or Gesing with lyrics added by Winstone.

The flow of the words does not, for the most part, fall into the regular phrase lengths and structures associated with conventional popular "tunes," but something closer to stories. When this narrative feature is combined with the arrangements that bring Venier's piano and Gesing's soprano saxophone and bass clarinet into full partnership with Winstone's voice, the result is a very seductive sound that soon embraces the listener.

A number of tracks from the album were performed, including the originals "Distance," "Giant's Gentle Stride" (an homage to John Coltrane, based on "Giant Steps"), "The Mermaid," and the wordless "Gorizia," but also the standard "Every Time We Say Goodbye" by Cole Porter, with Peter Gabriel's "Here Comes The Flood" as the encore.

The latter songs, plus one by Tom Waits, showed how Winstone can interpret someone else's words and music, along with more formal, conventional structures, and make the material her own, with Venier and Gesing adding the magic when supporting and soloing.

This set demonstrated what makes jazz such an important art form: everyone, both audience and performers, visibly had a good time while performing and experiencing music of emotional depth. One hopes for much more music from Winstone, Venier and Gesing.

Tags

comments powered by Disqus

More Articles

Read Punkt Festival 2017 Live Reviews Punkt Festival 2017
by Henning Bolte
Published: September 17, 2017
Read Gary Clark, Jr. and Jimmie Vaughan at the Iridium Live Reviews Gary Clark, Jr. and Jimmie Vaughan at the Iridium
by Mike Perciaccante
Published: September 16, 2017
Read 38th Annual Detroit Jazz Festival Live Reviews 38th Annual Detroit Jazz Festival
by C. Andrew Hovan
Published: September 15, 2017
Read Sue Rynhart at The Cresent Arts Centre Live Reviews Sue Rynhart at The Cresent Arts Centre
by Ian Patterson
Published: September 15, 2017
Read 38th International Jazzfestival Saalfelden Live Reviews 38th International Jazzfestival Saalfelden
by Enrico Bettinello
Published: September 15, 2017
Read Toshiko Akiyoshi Trio at Dizzy's Club Coca-Cola Live Reviews Toshiko Akiyoshi Trio at Dizzy's Club Coca-Cola
by Keith Henry Brown
Published: September 7, 2017
Read "Erik Friedlander At National Concert Hall, Dublin" Live Reviews Erik Friedlander At National Concert Hall, Dublin
by Ian Patterson
Published: February 8, 2017
Read "TD Ottawa Jazz Festival 2017" Live Reviews TD Ottawa Jazz Festival 2017
by John Kelman
Published: June 29, 2017
Read "2017 Tri-C JazzFest Cleveland" Live Reviews 2017 Tri-C JazzFest Cleveland
by C. Andrew Hovan
Published: July 3, 2017
Read "Jazztopad 2016, Part 1" Live Reviews Jazztopad 2016, Part 1
by Henning Bolte
Published: December 24, 2016
Read "Bryan Ferry at the Paramount Theater" Live Reviews Bryan Ferry at the Paramount Theater
by Geoff Anderson
Published: August 19, 2017
Read "Bergamo Jazz Festival 2017" Live Reviews Bergamo Jazz Festival 2017
by Francesco Martinelli
Published: April 14, 2017

Join the staff. Writers Wanted!

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