Kenny Wheeler - An Evocation including Dave Holland,
Norma Winstone, Stan Sulzmann, Ralph Towner and his quintet
@ the @ 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
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
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
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
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 jazz artists.
She continues in the forefront of British jazz and was nominated
again in the 2007 and 2008 BBC Jazz Awards for best vocalist.
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 Gesing.