British jazz vocalist Norma Winstone's solo debut is an entrancing meld of creative composition, improvisation, and arrangement. Winstone is no ordinary jazz singer. Her grasp of the entire tradition is as complete as her improvising chops are sharp. Winstone surrounds herself with the cream of the crop of Britain's brilliant jazz wunderkind here: Kenny Wheeler, Paul Rutherford, Art Themen, Chris Pyne, Chris Laurence, and John Taylor, just to name a few. She embraces the vocal tradition in order to stretch it on the album's centerpiece, "Enjoy This Day," with glorious interplay between Winstone and Wheeler (whose solo is one of the best of his early career) led by John Taylor's two-handed harmonic extrapolations -- the tune was composed by Winstone and Taylor and he arranged it. As she shimmers through "Enjoy This Day," the vanguard tonalities of John Surman's "Erebus (Son of Chaos)," and the elegant balladic traditionalism of "Songs for a Child," Winstone's commitment to offering new vistas for voice is total, matched only by her astounding ability to erect new vocal architectures in phrasing, breath control, and pure emotional transcendence. Of the seven selections here, each is a new chapter, a new way of hearing and engaging a vocalist at her most restless, yet who remains in absolute control.
Share this page
AllMusic Review by Thom Jurek