I've seen the this program last night (15th of december 2011) in hamburg at the ndr studio and I can tell you:
the ndr bigband, mike gibbs and norma winstone present an outstanding record!
roots go back to the seventies, when norma winstone performs in the bigbands of mike westbrook
and mike gibbs, already together with "her azimuth-hus-band" kenny wheeler and john taylor,
and now mike gibbs arranges the trumpet solo of kenny wheeler in "some shadows" for the bigband
of the ndr and for their amazing flugelhornplayer claus stötter, who is moved of this great treat
and who moves you.
Mike Gibss arranges songs of randy newman, cole porter, sting, fats waller, joni Mitchell, tom waits, duke ellington, billy strayhorn and so on......
Similar to a project, colin towns did, also with norma winstone and the ndr bigband in 2006 - but both are very unique arrangers, so both are standing for themselves.
You cannot say, what is the most important and most special thing in this production:
The amazing and wonderful norma winstone, with her uncomparable way of singing songs, you have heard so often, and you then think, you had never heard them before?
The fantastic ndr bigbang, which plays incredible arrangements with such a nonchalance and understatement, but with the full power and the great varity of sensitive sounds of a "real bigband", with all that you can do with this brass and reeds, that hits you again and again?
The moving spiritual contribution of Christoph Lauer (ts) on "Here comes the honey man" (George and Ira Gershwin)? The wonderful "deep black" playing of Lutz Büchner on River Man (Nick Drake)?
The arrangements of mike gibbs are serving the the songs, the singer, and the band - all are presented with their original possibilities, with their unique quality, and the arrangements create a new thing, transcending the limits of the single elements.
Just listen and try to get it.