Norma Winstone and the Distances Trio seem fragile but play strong 

Elegant and Delicate

Don't call Norma Winstone a diva

Courtesy of Norma Winstone

Don't call Norma Winstone a diva

London-based vocalist Norma Winstone has earned a terrific reputation in the U.K. and around the world as an innovative and expressive performer, composer, and musical collaborator, but she laughs at the idea of working in the forefront of British jazz. Currently involved with a trio, she shrugs the tag away.

"I'm in an older generation from the other two, which is good for me, because they bring other ideas and perspectives to the mix," Winstone says. "Also, they have different cultural influence as well."

A critically acclaimed performer with an elegant style, Winstone and her bandmates in the Distances Trio — Italian pianist Glauco Venier and German reedman Klaus Gesing (soprano sax and bass clarinet) — kick off the two-week series under the moss-draped oaks of the Cistern this week.

Over the last 30 years, Winstone has spent considerable time on stages, in rehearsal halls, and in the studio with some of the greats in the jazz world. She's not so comfortable embracing the identity of a jazz diva, however.

"I don't know how to define it," she says. "I'd rather not have categories in music. I can like a piece of pop music, or Bartók and Chopin, or something very modern. If the music touches me, I like it. That's the whole point."

Winstone's trio came together years ago when Glauco and Klaus, who were playing as a duo at the time, invited the singer to join them on stage at a concert near Glauco's home in Italy. They clicked immediately, working from basic arrangements and veering into improvisational detours.

"We do all sorts of things — some little folky pieces and newer songs with similar licks as the last one," Winstone says. "With three people, the instrumentation creates a limit to what you're going to hear.

"I prefer it, really — I prefer the space and the risk," she adds of the configuration. "I've always really liked not being quite sure how things will come out. I've liked living dangerously in that way. ... When you don't have bass and drums, you don't have to fill all the spaces that they would fill, but you do have to perhaps sometimes imply what they would do."

The delicate balance between instruments — and between the spaces and accents — is the foundation of their airy, atmospheric music. They developed this original sound early on. Their latest album, Distances, earned both a Grammy nomination in the U.S. and the Académie du Jazz prize in Paris. A forthcoming album of new originals and renditions is due this fall.

"I've been influenced by classical music, Brazilian music, and traditional Irish music," Winstone says. "It's all there, and everything is a possibility with this group. They don't mind what they turn themselves to. We often listen to a piece of music and then ask, 'Can we do something and be ourselves within this piece?' We wonder if we can bring something to it."


Comments

Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

Classified Listings

Powered by Foundation   © Copyright 2018, Charleston City Paper   RSS