Kenny Wheeler - An Evocation including
Dave Holland, Evan Parker,
Norma Winstone, Stan Sulzmann, Ralph Towner and his quintet
@ the Cadogan Hall
19 November 2015
Click an image to enlarge.
Norma Winstone biography
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.
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.
Winstone 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
She continues in the forefront of British jazz
and was nominated again in the 2007 and 2008 BBC Jazz Awards for
Wintstone was awarded an MBE in the Queen’s
Birthday Honours List in 2007.
In 2009 Winstone was awarded the Skoda Jazz Ahead
Award in Bremen for her contribution to European Jazz.
Her current group is a trio featuring Italian
pianist Glauco Venier and German saxophonist/ bass clarinetist Klaus