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Distances

Artist: Norma Winstone

Date of Release: 31/03/2008

Catalogue no: 1448

Label: ECM

Price: £12.99

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Track Listing

No

 

Title

Duration

1

 

Distances

2

 

Every Time We Say Goodbye

3

 

Drifter

4

 

Giant's Gentle Stride

5

 

Gorizia

6

 

Ciant

7

 

The Mermaid

8

 

Here Comes The Flood

9

 

Remembering the Start of a Never Ending Story

10

 

A Song for England

 

 

 

 

Revelatory new album from England's finest jazz singer Norma Winstone, her first for ECM in a decade, leading an inspired trio with German reedman Klaus Gesing and Italian pianist Glauco Venier, both in their label debuts.
In 2007 Norma Winstone received the MBE in recognition of services to British jazz, but the influence of the London-born singer has been much more than a regional affair. In the 1960s Winstone was a pioneer in vocal improvisation in important collaborations with musicians including Joe Harriott, John Stevens and Mike Westbrook. She came to ECM in the mid 1970s with the group Azimuth (with John Taylor and Kenny Wheeler) whose five albums set new standards in improvised chamber music. She also appeared on ECM under leaders Wheeler (Music for Large and Small Ensembles) and Eberhard Weber (Fluid Rustle), and issued her own album 'Somewhere Called Home' in which she put words to tunes by Egberto Gismonti, Ralph Towner and others and sang standards. Beyond ECM she's collaborated with Americans Jimmy Rowles, Fred Hersch, Gary Burton and Steve Swalllow, and is increasingly regarded as a first-rate lyricist as well as a great singer.

'Distances' is a magical collaboration with Italian pianist Glauco Venier and German clarinettist/ saxophonist Klaus Gesing, players who have a long history as duo partners. Guesting with them eight years ago, Norma saw the potential in the combination and they have since developed their own musical language as a group, including an album for Universal, Chamber Music, but 'Distances' takes the work to another level. Gesing and Venier, both strong composers, are also players who serve the song and the text. The classically trained Gesing has developed a unique role for the bass clarinet, alternating between a real bass function and lyrical, soloistic flights. Venier on piano establishes the harmonic frameworks, drawing influence from jazz and classical and folk sources. Songs include Cole Porter's "Every Time We Say Goodbye", Peter Gabriel's "Here Comes The Flood", "Giant's Gentle Stride" (a Coltrane tribute co-authored by Winstone and Gesing), "Ciant" (cross-referencing Satie and Pasolini) and more - including the beautiful title track by with its irresistible melody and powerful, visually-evocative words.

Personnel:
Norma Winstone - (voice), Glauco Venier - (piano), Klaus Gesing - (saxophone, clarinet)

 

Reviews

 

01/05/2008 Peter Bevan, Yorkshire Post

The singer's first ECM album for ten years is simply beautiful.

 

01/05/2008 Philip Clark

She sings with coolly controlled passion as always – and is this a cert for end-of-year-charts? I’d say so.

 

01/05/2008 Jazzwise - Duncan Heining

****

Primarily a song-based record, any parallels here with Azimuth, the trio Norma Winstone shared with pianist John Taylor and trumpeter Kenny Wheeler, are quickly dispelled. This group’s first album, Chamber music on Universal, was marvellous but the sense of unity and coherence of mood, atmosphere and imagination that pervades these 10 tracks is exceptional by any standards. A fine lyricist herself, Winstone loves both contemporary songwriters and the Great American Songbook and Distances features both a delightful, fragmentary ‘Every Time We Say Goodbye’ and Peter Gabriel’s haunting ‘Here Comes The Flood’. Yet, her own words for the elegiac ‘Drifter’, introspective ‘Giant’s Gentle Stride’ and extraordinarily sensual ‘The Mermaid’ are just as fine. However, make no mistake, this is most definitely a trio record. Venier’s piano is coaxing and forceful by turns and tunes, ‘Distances’ the wordless ‘Gorizia’ and the fast flowing ‘The Mermaid’, set Winstone’s voice to perfection. As for Gesing, not only does he write well, for instance, ‘Drifter’ and ‘Giant’s Gentle Stride’ are his – but his tone on soprano and, in particular, on bass clarinet is personal and responsive. Perhaps the most beautiful piece here is ‘Ciant’ where Venier has set words by Paulo Pasolini to a tune by Erik Satie and which features the most lyrical of soprano solos from Gesing. It defines the partnership that made this record and that made this group so special

 

11/04/2008 Jack Massarik Evening Standard 4****

Music of this serene beauty and tonal purity is normally reserved for the classical racks but German label ECM is committed to such excellence, and the singer is England’s equally fastidious Norma Winstone. Partnered by Italian pianist Glauco Venier and German reedman Klaus Gesing on soprano sax and bass clarinet, her cool, almost vibrato-free tones complete a chamber-jazz trio of rare sensitivity. Their glacially beautiful version of Every Time We Say Goodbye is close in spirit to the Nordic saxophonist Jan Garbarek. A talented songsmith, Norma also wrote the lyrics to five originals here, including the title track.

 

06/04/2008 The Independent - Phil Johnson

Whether trilling wordlessly, singing her own poetic lyrics or enacting personal interpretations of jazz standards, the voice of Norma Winstone has created a uniquely sensitive sound-world for five decades.
This trio with pianist Glauco Venier and reedsman Klaus Gesing places Winstone in a rather serious context of chamber-jazz art-songs, including Pier Paolo Pasolini (to a tune by Erik Satie), Peter Gabriel ("Here Comes the Flood") and Caribbean poet Andrew Salkey. On a version of "Every Time We Say Goodbye" inspired by John Coltrane, with Gesing's clarinet burbling like birdsong, it's amazing.

 

28/03/2008 The Guardian - John Fordham ****

British singer Norma Winstone hasn't recorded for ECM in a decade, but her understatement, stillness, technical precision and quiet soulfulness have always made her sound like an ECM artist. Winstone has sung straighter, and revisited standards more in recent times, but this is a more idiosyncratically personal reverie - on beautiful material inspired by Coltrane, Pasolini, Cole Porter, Peter Gabriel, Erik Satie and more. Winstone's remarkable voice, which manages to be both sumptuous and airily ethereal at once, is complemented by Italian pianist Glauco Venier and German reeds-player Klaus Gesing. Gesing winds his soprano sax's delicate traceries around Winstone on a delicately distracted account of Every Time We Say Goodbye, and Winstone drifts like smoke on Pier Paolo Pasolini's lyrics for Satie's Ciant. The closing A Song for England, with a softly snorting horn ostinato sustaining an African-townships chant, is the closest thing to a groove on the set. For the most part, the tracks are like contemporary-jazz lullabies, but they're the opposite of soporific.


 

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