I called this entry "Norma Winstone: Overlooked" simply because I have overlooked her in my meanderings through the jazz world. But then again, I think most folks in the U.S. have probably missed her as well. Granted, vocalists are not at the top of my must hear list, but as my end of 2011 list showed I clearly do listen to them, and in some cases love what I hear. So why did I pass her by time and time again when I clearly had seen her CDs at my local store, and why did I instead try others first? I think there are three reasons:
- She is hardly publicized in the U.S., is not from the U.S., and doesn't perform here that much.
- When there is a new disc with attendant publicity and/or reviews, the music is on ECM, which has a cache that does not lend itself to assuming that a singer will be as "straight'ahead" as Winstone.
- There are a lot of singers who do get press, publicity, and radio airplay in the U.S., and she is not one of them. Folks this past year were much more likely to have heard of Gretchen Parlato, Tierney Sutton, or Karyn Allison, each of whom had a hit album in 2011. That leaves little room in the market to find Norma Winstone.
"Stories Yet to Tell" (2010) is Winstone's most recent disc. Winstone the lyricist contributes to eight of its twelve songs. It is clearly the most personal collection to date, and as bewitching as all that came before. Her partnership with Venier and Gesing is more fully realized, and the two provide a great deal of support both in the compositions and in their delivery in backing the full richness of Winstone's soft, beautifully realized lyrics. Three of the four songs are instrumentals arranged by Venier, wherein Winstone provides some wordless singing to produce a fully realized trio. When she does sing, her interpretations are once again at the forefront and her lovely, rich, full alto overwhelms the listeners senses with consummate beauty.
Sorry I missed you Norma. I look forward to hearing more from your discography, and to future releases.