Stories Yet To Tell (ECM)

Norma Winstone

Released August 20, 2010

Jazzwise Top 10 Releases of 2010




“Stories Yet To Tell” is the second ECM album from the British-German-Italian trio that made the Grammy-nominated “Distances” (a recording which also won the Top Jazz Vocal CD prize of France’s Academie du Jazz and contributed to Norma Winstone’s winning of Germany’s Skoda Jazz Ahead Award for services to European jazz). If the awards have emphasized the trio’s remarkable singer, this is nonetheless a real band with a unique ensemble identity.
Norma Winstone, Glauco Venier and Klaus Gesing are three adventurous musicians united, in this project, by a profound feeling for song. The stark instrumentation – voice, piano, bass clarinet/soprano sax – seems never to limit their repertoire, but to encourage the players to explore widely, and to make musical use of the available space. 
Jazz ballads, old and new, find their place alongside – for instance – adaptations of Friulian folk songs, and ‘chamber’ pieces influenced by classical or contemporary composition. Textures, colours and rhythms may be drawn from scattered, surprising sources: a thirteenth century Troubadour ballad, an Armenian cradle song and more.
The musicians play songs from Mexico’s Armando Manzanero to Armenia’s Komitas, to Wayne Shorter. What they take they make their own, much of the material they compose themselves, and most of the words are Norma’s. As both singer and lyricist she has few contemporary peers: her words seem to float up from the music’s expressive core. 
The trio is a band in which creative responsibilities are very equally shared. Glauco Venier and Klaus Gesing have collaborated in musical projects since the mid-90s, including a long running duo. They invited Norma to join them for Italian concerts a decade ago and the singer soon recognized a potential for developing a trio music with its own specific character, meanwhile documented on three outstanding recordings: “Chamber Music” (Universal, released 2004), “Distances” (ECM, 2008), and the present disc, produced by Manfred Eicher in Udine in 2009. 
As with its predecessors, “Stories Yet To Tell” reveals Venier and Gesing as gifted composers and distinctive instrumentalists. Venier’s choice of notes and his harmonizations are strikingly original, and Gesing has established his own methodology for bass clarinet in particular, vaulting between rhythm and melody functions, and matching textures and phrases with Winstone’s subtle voice. 
From the beginning of her life in jazz, Norma Winstone has wanted to be part of the ensemble, rather than a frontwoman. She uses her voice ‘instrumentally’, to interweave improvised lines with her partners and participate in the blossoming harmony. When singing texts, she draws her fellow musicians ever deeper into the storylines sketched by the lyrics, until the plot is illuminated from three perspectives.

Track Listing:

1. Just Sometimes (Armando Manzanero / Norma Winstone) 6:10

2. Sisyphus (Klaus Gesing / Norma Winstone) 5:05

3. Cradle Song [Hoy Nazan] (Tigran Mansurian / Christina Rossetti / Norma Winstone) 4:33

4. Like A Lover (Alan Bergman / Marilyn Bergman / Dori Caymmi / Nelson Motta) 4:10

5. Rush (Klaus Gesing / Norma Winstone) 4:48

6. The Titles (Klaus Gesing / Norma Winstone) 4:00

7. Carnera (Glauco Venier / Norma Winstone) 4:11

8. Lipe Rosiže (Traditional) 4:56

9. Among The Clouds (Maria Schneider / Norma Winstone) 3:32

10. Ballo Furlano (Giorgio Mainerio) 3:18

11. Goddess (Wayne Shorter / Norma Winstone) 5:09

12. En Mort D’en Joan De Cucanh (Traditional) 2:15


Norma Winstone: voice

Klaus Gesing: bass clarinet, soprano saxophone

Glauco Venier: piano

Recorded December 2009, at ArteSuono Recording Studio, Udine

Produced by Manfred Eicher


“Just sometimes, I catch a glimpse of something in a stranger,” is the way Norma Winstone begins Stories Yet To Tell.

These words on ‘Just Sometimes’, a song of regret, longing, knowing and wondering are typical of many of Winstone’s lyrics on the album, delivered lingeringly, a quality that lends itself especially to the contemplative studio environment of this album.

A record of introspection certainly, Stories has a compelling force that lends itself to a quiet undistracted listen. You need to concentrate with Winstone, a quality that on stage, as at the Barbican last month at the London Jazz Festival when she appeared with the musicians from the album Italian pianist Glauco Venier and German reedsman Klaus Gesing, can be like an intrusion for the listener as her intimacy seems as if it’s out of place, a private music in a public place. Winstone has a natural affinity with slow tempi and hers is a psychologically-inclined jazz, her lyrics interpreting an inner life that combined with her ability to soar and swoop into the strong lower reaches of her range give her songs a serious intent. Gesing, who has also worked extensively with pianist Gwilym Simcock and whose songs and arrangements here (including the standout track ‘The Titles’) are in keeping with the pensive qualities that no doubt attracted Jazzwise writers to the album, is Winstone’s perfect sparring partner, while Venier delivers a studied poise that Winstone so needs.

Stephen Graham (Jazzwise)