Norma Winstone, Another Great Discovery

London born Norma Winstone (1941) is a British jazz singer and lyricist who has had a career that  spans over forty years and is probably best known for her wordless improvisations.

Still, I didn’t discover her until last week, when I came across her latest album “Stories yet to tell” with Italian pianist Glauco Venier and German bass clarinet/soprano sax player Klaus Gesing. The first song I heard was “Just Sometimes” and Winstone’s narration captivated me from the start. It isn’t very often you find a singer with such an powerful way of drawing you in. Even less common is it to find an ensemble where the singer plays such an integrated part and in which all musicians take turns in telling their story. When singing texts, Winstone draws her fellow musicians ever deeper into the story lines sketched by the lyrics, until the plot is illuminated from three perspectives. She uses her voice ‘instrumentally’, to interweave improvised lines with her partners and participate in the blossoming harmony.

“Stories Yet To Tell” is the second ECM album from the British-German-Italian trio that made the Grammy-nominated “Distances” (also beautiful by the way). Glauco Venier and Klaus Gesing have collaborated in musical projects since the mid-90s, including a long running duo. They invited Norma to join them for Italian concerts a decade ago and the singer soon recognized a potential for developing a trio music with its own specific character, meanwhile documented on three outstanding recordings: “Chamber Music” (Universal, released 2004), “Distances” (ECM, 2008), and the present disc, produced by Manfred Eicher in Udine in 2009.