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|1. Just Sometimes|
|3. Cradle Song (Hoy Nazan)|
|4. Like A Lover|
|6. The Titles|
|8. Lipe Rosize|
|9. Among The Clouds|
|10. Ballo furlano|
|12. En mort d'En Joan de Cucanh|
Winstone, Venier and Gesing are three adventurous musicians united, in this project, by a profound feeling for song. The stark instrumentation - voice, piano, bass clarinet/soprano sax - encourages the players to explore widely, and to make creative use of the available space. Glauco Venier and Klaus Gesing invited Norma, long-established as Britain's most distinctive jazz singer, to join them for Italian concerts a decade ago and she soon recognized a potential for developing a trio music with its own specific character, now documented on three outstanding recordings: 'Chamber Music' (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, who first recorded for ECM in 1977 as a member of the Azimuth trio with John Taylor and Kenny Wheeler, 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.
Personnel: Norma Winstone (voice), Klaus Gesing (bass clarinet, soprano saxophone), Glauco Venier (piano)
Reuniting with her collaborators on that album, reeds player Klaus Gesing and pianist Glauco Venier, Stories Yet to Tell, like its predecessor, proffers an eclectic miscellany of material. Included this time are standards, mediaeval music, an Armenian lullaby, a Wayne Shorter number and several improvisations based on texts by Winstone herself, all of it moulded into a homogenous whole by Gesing’s subtly interwoven woodwind and soprano sax, Venier’s warm, embracing keyboard harmonisations and Winstone’s highly nuanced, expertly modulated vocalising. As ever with ECM, the production, by label founder Manfred Eicher, is a rich, enveloping delight, somehow lending equally acute detail to both Winstone’s aerated upper range tonalities and the woody sonorities of Gesing’s bass clarinet.
Despite the disparate provenance of the songs, the album unfurls seamlessly, like episodes from the same narrative, the ‘meaning’ deducible as much from the tone and timbre of Winstone’s wordless improvisational flights as from the lyrics. Thus, Among the Clouds takes wing on wafting unison phrases between voice and woodwind while Winstone adds her own lyrics to the Armenian Cradle Song’s gentle swaying. The 13th century troubadour song En Mort d’En Joan de Cucanh, meanwhile, fuses the worlds of numinous sacred music and meditative jazz with an alacrity which fans of Jan Garbarek’s collaborations with the Hilliard Ensemble should relish.
Wistful, ethereal and subtle music-making like this will be too soothing, even soporific, for some. But while Stories Yet to Tell is unlikely to win many new converts, those already seduced by Norma Winstone’s drowsily compelling voice – and by the dreamy allure of Distances in particular – will find plenty to luxuriate in here.--David Sheppard
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