Saturday, November 22, 2008

CD of the Day - "Norma Winstone: Distances"

CD of the Day
Norma Winstone, Glauco Venier & Klaus Gesing: "Distances" (ECM) 2008

British jazz vocalist Norma Winstone, Italian pianist Glauco Venier and German reedman Klaus Gesing (on soprano sax & bass clarinet) create a spare sonic landscape that paints shades of color around Winstone's evocative singing. The mood is quiet, reflective, and seductive, yet one is always aware of the skill behind the taut, telepathic sound-painting created by Winstone and her guests. A truly beautiful effort (one that belongs firmly in the ECM legacy) "Distances" should please chamber-jazz fans and vocal-jazz lovers alike.

Winstone's first ECM release in a decade (it came out on May 27, 2008) was cut in April 2007 at the Artesuono Recording Studio, Udine, Italy, by engineer Stefano Amerio, as a follow-up to "Chamber Music", released in 2003 for the Austrian division of the EmArcy label.
Produced by Manfred Eicher, includes a 28-page booklet with all lyrics, many pics (all b&w) and liner notes by Steve Lake.
The cover photo reproduces a still from Jean-Luc Godard's "Eloge d'amour".

Cole Porter's "Ebery Time We Say Goodbye", completely re-harmonized, is the only standard in the program. And that "change for Major to Minor" never sounded so strange. Even more adventurous are the journeys into Peter Gabriel's "Here Comes The Flood" (dedicated to Mars), "Giant's Gentle Stride" (inspired by John Coltrane's "Giant Steps", but in a very slow tempo), and "Remembering The Start of a Never Ending Story", a challenging tune by German pianist Hubert Nuss to which Norma added lyrics. Glauco's "Gorizia" (named for the Italian Alpine town on the border with Slovenia) features Norma's wordless vocals, recalling her days with John Taylor and Kenny Wheeler on Azimuth (not to be confused with the Brazilian fusion group).

The chamber-jazz trio even sits a poem by Pier Paolo Pasolini, "Ciant da li Campanis" ("Song of the Bells") on top of Glauco's loose adaptation of Erik Satie's "Petite Ouverture à Danser". The last of several suprises comes in the closing tune, a humorous free calypso created by Norma, Glauco & Klaus based on a poem by the Panama-born to Jamaican parents writer Andrew Salkey.

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