Norma Winstone,

Descansado Songs for Films


THE great English jazz singer and lyricist Norma Winstone delivers a masterclass in marrying words, melody, mood and storytelling on this, her fourth album with German saxophonist-clarinettist Klaus Gesing and Italian pianist Glauco Venier.

Almost fifty years on from her recording debut, Winstone marshals long experience and shrewd musical judgement to sound gracefully ageless, turning these songs by composers including Michel Legrand, Nino Rota, Ennio Morricone and even William Walton into miniature, self-contained films in their own right, her clear diction and warm, assured phrasing negating any need for visual images.

There’s a delicate beauty in the trio’s interpretation of Legrand’s His Eyes, Her Eyes as Gesing’s soprano saxophone caresses and soars away from Winstone’s voice and Venier’s gently probing piano and elsewhere, percussion, cello and piccolo cello increase the instrumentation with superb discretion.

Two songs at the album’s heart, both featuring Winstone’s wordless singing, provide gorgeous contrast – the sad, inconsolable Vivre Sa Vie and the carefree Lisbon Story – and while Winstone’s lyics to and singing of Morricone’s Malena produce a wonderfully weightless ballad, Rota’s attractively medieval-sounding What Is A Youth and the folksong-like Meryton Townhall emphasise the album’s breadth of stylistic reference.