Tuesday 13th November
WINSTONE/ GESING / VENIER
+ HAARLA / KROKFORS / SEIM
Venue: St James's Piccadilly
Time (onstage): 7.30 p.m.
Ticket price: £20/£15
Norma Winstone, "one of the glories of contemporary jazz", (Jazz Journal) performs with pianist Glauco Venier and reed player Klaus Gesing from their latest ECM album Stories To Tell.
At first known for arranging the music of her late husband Edward Vesala, pianist and harpist Iro Harrla is now acknowledged in her own right as one of Finland’s finest musicians. She performs here with saxophonist Trygve Seim and bassist Ulf Krokfors, using a rich rhythmic tapestry as the basis for exploring open improvisation with few boundaries.
The Grammy nominated trio of singer Norma Winstone MBE, Italian pianist Glauco Venier and German reeds player, Klaus Gesing, present music from their highly acclaimed ECM album, Stories Yet to Tell, described by critics as ‘sublime’ and ‘exceptional’.
Norma Winstone occupies a special place among Europe’s jazz voices, ethereal yet rich she suffuses folk and classical sensibilities into her rarefied, glacially beautiful music.
Pianist Glauco Venier and reeds player Klaus Gesing, have a long history as duo partners. Invited to guest with them 10 years ago, Winstone noticed their instant rapport and the trio were formed. Three albums on, they have developed a sense of unity lauded as unique by critics.
Gesing and Venier, both strong composers, are also players who serve the song and the text. Gesing has developed a unique role for the bass clarinet, alternating between a real bass function and lyrical, virtuosic flights. Venier on piano establishes the harmonic frameworks and organically intertwines with Winstone’s haunting vocalese.
The ECM album ‘Distances’ received four and a half stars in Downbeat, winning an Academie Du Jazz prize as Best Jazz Vocal CD and a Grammy nomination. Their most recent album "Stories Yet to Tell" was nominated for best album in the 2011 Parliamentary Jazz Awards in the UK.
This wonderful trio launched their impressive new ECM title "Stories Yet to Tell" at the end of August and will be touring throughout next year to promote the album. The last album "Distances" (ECM) was nominated for a Grammy and this trio is now so well established that it is an absolute joy to listen to. The interplay between the three musicians is astounding. Norma Winstone is one of the world's greatest jazz performers with a subtlety and musicality that is breathtaking and her two musical partners are a perfect match.
Video link: http://player.ecmrecords.com/winstone
Norma Winstone was born in London and first attracted attention in the late sixties when she shared the bill at Ronnie Scott’s club with Roland Kirk.
Although she began her career singing jazz standards, she became involved in the avant garde movement, exploring the use of the voice in an experimental way and evolving her own wordless approach to improvisation.
She joined groups led by Mike Westbrook, Michael Garrick and sang with John Surman, Kenny Wheeler, Michael Gibbs and John Taylor, and worked extensively with many of the major European names and visiting Americans.
In 1971 she was voted top singer in the Melody Maker Jazz Poll and subsequently recorded her own album ‘Edge of Time‘ for Decca, which although long deleted has now been re-released as a CD on the Disconforme label.
In the late seventies she joined pianist John Taylor and trumpeter Kenny Wheeler to form the group AZIMUTH, which was described by Richard Williams of The Times as “one of the most imaginatively conceived and delicately balanced of all contemporary chamber jazz groups“.
In this setting she combines the instrumental use of the voice with words, most of which she writes herself. AZIMUTH has recorded several albums on the ECM label (the first three of which have been re-issued as a CD boxed set).
Their CD ‘How It Was Then… Never Again‘ was released in May 1995, and received four stars in Down Beat magazine.
Her own legendary album ‘Somewhere Called Home‘ on the ECM label is widely considered to be a classic.
In recent years she has become known as a very fine lyricist, writing words to compositions by Ralph Towner, and Brazilian composers Egberto Gismonti and Ivan Lins (who has recorded her English lyrics to his song ‘Vieste‘). She has a special affinity with the music of Steve Swallow, and has written lyrics to many of his compositions, most notably ‘Ladies in Mercedes‘, which has become a standard.
Her voice has become an important part of the sound of Kenny Wheeler’s big band, and can be heard in this context on the ECM double CD ‘Music for Large and Small Ensembles‘ which also features John Abercrombie, Dave Holland, Peter Erskine and John Taylor.
Her CD ‘Well Kept Secret‘, recorded with the legendary American pianist Jimmy Rowles, featuring George Mraz on bass and Joe La Barbera on drums, was given a four star rating in Down Beat magazine. Here Norma sings a selection of rare jazz standards, including Jimmy’s famous tune ‘The Peacocks’ for which she wrote lyrics and re-titled ‘A Timeless Place‘. This piece has since been recorded by other artists including jazz singer Mark Murphy, and The Swingle Singers.
Her CD ‘Manhattan In The Rain‘, with pianist Steve Gray, bassist Chris Laurence and special guest saxophonist Tony Coe consists of unusual and classic standards, described by Dave Gelly in The Observer as “A delectable set of songs… masterly and enthralling“.
A CD of duo performances with pianist John Taylor entitled ‘Like Song, Like Weather‘ on the Enodoc label was described by Don Heckman of the Los Angeles Times as “…a superb example of state-of-the-art, imaginative, virtually beyond-definition singing“.
In July 2001, she won the title of Best Vocalist in the BBC Jazz Awards hosted by Humphrey Lyttleton at London’s Queen Elizabeth Hall.
With American pianist Fred Hersch, she recorded a CD of Fred’s compositions with her lyrics: called ‘Songs and Lullabies‘, available in the US on Sunnyside, and in England on the Enodoc label. Vibraphonist Gary Burton makes a guest appearance on three tracks.
A recording ‘It’s Later than You Think‘, with the marvellous North German Radio big band directed by British writer Colin Towns, was released in Autumn 2006 to coincide with a British tour.
She was one of the stars of the acclaimed Gilles Peterson ‘Jazz Britannia‘ programme shown on BBC 2, from The Barbican which featured influential music of British jazz musicians from the sixties and seventies, along with contemporary jazz artists
A double CD ‘Amoroso…only more so‘, with The Stan Tracey trio and saxophonist Bobby Wellins was released on the Trio label to some five star reviews…….
“This is standards-reinvention as it should be done” John Fordham, The Guardian.
“Winstone’s voice and Wellins’ highly vocalised tenor seem made for each other…. Sheer class” Ray Comiskey, The Irish Times.
She continues in the forefront of British jazz and was nominated again in the 2007 and 2008 BBC Jazz Awards for best vocalist.
She was awarded an MBE in the Queen’s Birthday Honours List in 2007.
In 2009 she was awarded the Skoda Jazz Ahead Award in Bremen for her contribution to European Jazz.