Descansado - Songs for Film

Norma Winstone

EN / DE
A creative journey into the world of cinema with new arrangements – by Klaus Gesing and Glauco Venier – of music by Nino Rota, Michel Legrand, William Walton, Bernard Herrmann, and Ennio Morricone for the movies of Scorsese, Godard, Wenders, Jewison, Zeffirelli, Olivier and more. Several of the arrangements incorporate new words by Norma Winstone who, in addition to being one of the great jazz singers, has long been a sensitive lyricist. For this project her acclaimed trio with Gesing and Venier is augmented by two special guests: Norwegian improvising percussionist Helge Andreas Norbakken and Italian classical cellist Mario Brunello. Norbakken is well-known to ECM listeners for his recordings with Jon Balke, Mathias Eick and Jon Hassell, while Brunello is highly regarded in classical and contemporary music circles for his interpretive versatility. ”Descansado – Music for Films” was recorded at ArteSuono Studio in Udine, Italy, in March 2017 and produced by Manfred Eicher.
Eine Reise in die Welt des Kinos: Klaus Gesing und Glauco Venier arrangieren Werke der Filmkomponisten Nino Rota, Michel Legrand, William Walton, Bernard Herrmann und Ennio Morricone neu, Werke, ursprünglich komponiert für Regisseure wie Martin Scorsese, Jean-Luc Godard, Wim Wenders, Noman Jewison, Franco Zeffirelli, Laurence Olivier und andere. Norma Winstone hat für einige dieser Arrangements neue Texte geschrieben – neben ihrer Karriere als eine der großen Jazz-Sängerinnen war sie immer auch eine einfühlsame Lyrikerin. Ihr gefeiertes Trio mit Gesing und Venier wird nun um zwei Special-Guests erweitert: Um den norwegischen Perkussionisten Helge Andreas Norbakken sowie um den Cellisten Mario Brunello aus Italien. Norbakken dürfte ECM-Hörern durch Aufnahmen mit Jon Balke, Mathias Eick und Jon Hassel bereits bekannt sein, während sich Brunello mit seiner interpretatorischen Vielseitigkeit vor allem in Kreisen der klassischen und zeitgenössischen Musik hervorgetan hat. Descansado – Music for Films im März 2017 wurde im ArteSuono Studio in Udine, Italien aufgenommen und von Manfred Eicher produziert.
Featured Artists Recorded

March 2017, Artesuono Recording Studio, Udine

Original Release Date

16.02.2018

  • 1His Eyes, Her Eyes
    (Michel Legrand, Alan Bergman, Marilyn Bergman)
    06:04
  • 2What Is A Youth?
    (Nino Rota, Eugene Walter)
    04:36
  • 3Descansado
    (Armando Trovajoli, Norma Winstone)
    05:42
  • 4Vivre Sa Vie
    (Michel Legrand)
    03:00
  • 5Lisbon Story
    (Pedro Ayres Magalhaes, Rodrigo Leao)
    03:10
  • 6Malena
    (Ennio Morricone, Norma Winstone)
    03:57
  • 7Il Postino
    (Luis Bacalov, Norma Winstone)
    04:52
  • 8Amarcord (I Remember)
    (Nino Rota, Norma Winstone)
    05:06
  • 9Meryton Town Hall
    (Dario Marianelli)
    02:57
  • 10Touch Her Soft Lips and Part
    (William Walton, Norma Winstone)
    03:00
  • 11Theme from Taxi Driver (So Close To Me Blues)
    (Bernard Herrmann, Norma Winstone)
    04:56
  • 12Vivre Sa Vie (Piano Solo)
    (Michel Legrand)
    01:10
‘Descansado’ reveals the emotional content of the themes. Composed by the Portuguese group Madredeus, ‘Lisbon Story,’ which draws its title from the Wim Wenders film in which it originally appeared, finds Ms. Winstone singing wordlessly as Mr. Gesing’s sax wraps around her in a bright setting. Morricone’s title theme for Giuseppe Tornatore’s ‘Malena’ is given a wistful reading in which a soprano sax passes off its solo to a cello. For that tune, Ms. Winstone composed new lyrics that include the phrase ‘every step, she’s alone,’ which summarizes the title character’s plight. […] On ‘Descansado’, one hears both sides of Ms. Winstone’s approach to song. As ‘Touch Her Soft Lips and Part’ from Laurence Olivier’s ‘Henry V’ opens, she sings a cappella until Mr. Venier enters quietly and Mr. Brunello adds color on the cello. Rota’s ‘Amarcord,’ from the Federico Fellini film, is an integrated full-band performance with Mr. Venier providing a lengthy entrance and exit, and Mr. Norbakken contributing inventive percussion that sounds synthetic but is made with his expanded kit. Meanwhile, Ms. Winstone’s voice and Mr. Gesing’s bass clarinet dance around each other with wise, muted joy. The version of the ‘Taxi Driver’ theme that’s credited to Herrmann evokes the film’s dark, threatening mood, but Ms. Winstone’s new lyrics avoid replicating the narrative, instead communicating the inner life of Iris, the teenage prostitute. She sings, beautifully and mournfully, ‘Life’s a cruel game, survival is its name.’[…] an album of subtle power and lingering splendor.
Jim Fusilli, Wall Street Journal
 
Die zwölf zum Teil sehr bekannten Kinosongs […] ergeben hier aber keine der üblichen musikalischen Anthologien. Veniers extrem reduzierte Arrangements und Winstones feiner, oft nur gehauchter Gesang verweben sie zu einem einzigen großen Werk, zu dem sich vor dem geistigen Auge der Hörers ein eigener Film entrollt.
Oliver Hochkeppel, Süddeutsche Zeitung
 
‘Descansado: Songs for Films’ is an unusual and provocative album from Norma Winstone. Her fourth with bass clarinetist/soprano saxophonist Klaus Gesing and pianist Glauco Venier, they are augmented by percussionist Helge Andreas Norbakken and cellist Mario Brunello. The 12-track program offers highly original arrangements of songs from cinema, but sounds unlike any other similarly themed collection. Winstone also wrote lyrics for six themes here -- she is widely celebrated for her poetic sensibilities. While Gesing and Venier handle highly original arrangements -- though the most iconic tunes are always recognizable -- Winstone focuses on highlighting the way these songs operated in the relationships between composers and directors, as well as standalone songs. […] ‘Descansado’ is an ensemble recording to be sure, and this group offer tremendous confidence in the elegance of their approach. Winstone is at a career peak here.
Thom Jurek, All Music
 
Manfred Eicher has long championed the combining of visual and audio images, with albums devoted to Greek film soundtrack composers and even a Jean-Luc Godard tribute to the French nouvelle vague era. On this occasion, singer Norma Winstone has devoted the entire album to exploring her favourite film soundtracks from different eras, with an emphasis on Italian composers, and the result is a wonderful evocation of cinema history in musical form. Helping her to create just the right ambiance are pianist Glauco Venier, soprano saxophonist and bass clarinetist Klaus Gesing, with additional layers provided on both cello and percussion. Winstone’s own gifted songwriting talents are deployed, with the occasional instrumental providing variety. [..] The project as a whole is devoted to John Taylor and Kenny Wheeler, both of whom regularly performed with the singer. An album of wider interest to fans of cinema and quality music.
Tim Stenhouse, UK Vibe
 
‚Descansado‘ reiht nun Klassiker der Filmmusik wie Perlen auf die Schnur […] Es geht um das Ausleuchten kleiner Gesten, um das Einkreisen vorüberhuschender und doch bedeutungstragender Momente […] In wundervollen Arrangements geben Gesing und Venier diesen Momenten Dauer. Während der Studioaufnahmen in Udine wurde spontan ein Thema aus Godards ‚Die Geschichte der Nana S.‘ in einer berückend innigen wortlosen Variante hinzugefügt, das am Ende dieses neben allen Moden angesiedelten zeitlosen Albums als kurzes Pianosolo noch einmal aufscheint: brillante, rare, diskrete Musik.
Ulrich Steinmetzger, Leipziger Volkszeitung
 
Interpreting the scores of Legrand, Rota and Morricone, among others, and referencing such filmmakers as Godard, Fellini and Scorsese, the result is a collection of moving images in and of itself.
Tyran Grillo, The New York City Jazz Record
 
A consistently lyrical and artistic take on a set of wonderful melodies, with each one sent through the prism of a unique band. […] With more time for focus, listeners will find that Winstone’s lyrics, set to many of these movie soundtrack melodies that did not have lyrics originally, are worth enjoying. She is attentive to storytelling, vivid imagery and creating fluent content for these themes. She is, herself, a fine writer.
Will Layman, Spectrum Culture
 
Winstones gehauchte Melodien, Gesings feine Gegenlinien und Veniers Tröpfeltöne vom Klavier ziehen den Hörer in eine entrückte Atmosphäre. Die aber auch aufgebrochen wird, sei es durch eine ausgelassene Melodie aus Wenders‘ ‚Lisbon Story‘, einen Ohrwurm aus ‚Amarcord‘ oder einen Folk-Dance aus ‚Stolz und Vorurteil‘. Mit Konzentration und feinem Spiel, vor allem aber durch die Reverenz an große Filme mittels ihrer Musik, an große Regisseure mittels ihrer Komponisten halten Winstone und die ihren die Spannung.
Berthold Klostermann, Stereo
 
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.
Rob Adams, The Herald
 
For the latest release, the trio have taken the theme of Songs for Films, and have often reworked the original in a ways that perhaps even the original composer may not instantly recognize. In addition to this they have also brought two new musicians in to the mix with percussionist Helge Andreas Norbakken and the cello of Mario Brunello. It is therefore testament to the skill of all that this has not in anyway changed the sound of the trio or their identity but enhanced the overall experience by the subtle use of the new colours available. Often used sparingly as on the beautiful 'Malena' written by Ennio Morricone with its delicate use of percussion and Gesing's haunting soprano saxophone and the lyrical cello, along with Norma's words make this one of the highlights (among many) of the set. […] The album is dedicated in memory of John Taylor and Kenny Wheeler with whom Winstone recorded for ECM as the trio Azimuth, and the it is most fitting that William Walton's beautiful 'Touch Her Soft Lips And Part' with lyrics by Norma, which the late pianist used to play, should be included. This is another superb album from Norma Winstone and her colleagues, that shows how far the trio has developed over the last seventeen years, and shows just how much more there is still to explore.
Nick Lea, Jazz Views
 
Im Gegensatz zu vielen scheinbar ähnlichen Unternehmen bedient sie sich nicht einfach der eingängigsten filmmusikalischen Ohrwürmer. Zum einen zieht ihre feine kleine Band (als Gäste stossen der Perkussionist Helge Andreas Norbakken und der Cellist Mario Brunello zur Stammbesetzung) die Musik von Michel Legrand, Nino Rota, Ennio Morricone, William Walton, Armando Trovajoli und anderen von der grossen Leinwand in feinsinnigen Arrangements ins durchsichtige Kleinformat. Zum andern feiert Winstone die Filme selbst, Werke von Godard, Wenders, Zeffirelli, Fellini, Laurence Olivier, Martin Scorsese, Michael Radford. Denn die Sängerin, und das macht sie zu einer ziemlich einmaligen Ausnahme, schreibt auch Texte, die mehr sind als ‚lyrics‘, nämlich eigentliche Lyrik, die diesen Namen verdient. In ihnen gelingen ihr staunenswert dichte, stimmungsvolle Konzentrate der ganzen Filme, aus denen die Melodien stammen. Ein schönes Gesamtkunstwerk.
Peter Rüedi, Weltwoche
 
The bulk of the music this trio has previously performed for ECM—on ‘Distances’ (2008), ‘Stories Yet To Tell’ (2010) and ‘Dance Without Answer’ (2014)—embraces an unconventional waywardness that includes a connection to jazz but more often works in territory more suited to folk and classical realms. ‘Descansado’, while also employing similar strategies (for instance, on Dario Marianelli's lively ode ‘Meryton Town Hall’ from Joe Wright's 2005 film ‘Pride And Prejudice’ with lyrics by Winstone, and on Nina Rota's stately, mournful ‘What Is A Youth?’ from Franco Zeffirelli's 1968 film ‘Romeo And Juliet’ with cello and percussion added for emphasis) tacks toward a looser, more improvisatory, jazz sensibility, finding connections between film music and jazz that have been there ever since the first sound film, in 1927, with Al Jolson and ‘The Jazz Singer’. […] Winstone's singing voice remains a constant, no matter who she's playing with, and regardless of content. Like Shirley Horn, she has taken the human voice—the female voice to be specific—and brought us close to her, or her to us, the effect at times part lullaby/bedtime story, part adult imagination given free reign. Not whispering, never belting, she's more than just easy on the ears, capable of moving us to tears, even if she's also capable of the subtle shock, a sudden twist, a harsh interlude. And with a magnetic talent for creating stunning musical alliances, Winstone seems to always end up with highly sympathetic colleagues. It is as if she has been cunning to get the right people all along, fully in control of not only her muse but theirs as well.
John Ephland, All About Jazz
For its fourth ECM album, a creative journey into the world of film music, Norma Winstone’s trio with Klaus Gesing and Glauco Venier is augmented by guests Helge Andreas Norbakken and Mario Brunello. Together they explore music written by Nino Rota, Michel Legrand, William Walton, Bernard Herrmann, Ennio Morricone, Armando Trovajoli, Madredeus, Luis Bacalov and Dario Marianelli for the movies of Scorsese, Godard, Wenders, Jewison, Zeffirelli, Olivier and more.
 
Descansado, named after Trovajoli’s regretful-yet-buoyant tune for Vittorio De Sica’s 1963 film Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow, is an album that works on several levels. Thoroughly involving as a set of graceful songs, it also invites the listener to reflect on the creative relationships between directors and composers, and the many ways in which music so often subtly contributes to the emotional tone of a film.
 
Some of the pieces here count as classics of the film song genre, among them Nina Rota’s “What Is A Youth” and Michel Legrand’s “His Eyes, Her Eyes”, transformed in the performances by Winstone and company. For six of the songs Norma has written new words.
 
As well as being one of the great contemporary jazz singers, Winstone has long been a sensitive lyricist, and her song texts often capture a moment or a mood in a way that might well be described as filmic. And so it is here, with her stories of love and loss conveyed through a look, a gesture or a touch. In their fresh arrangements, Venier and Gesing expand upon both the atmosphere of the film in question and the feeling embodied in Norma’s lyrics.
 
William Walton’s “Touch Her Soft Lips And Part”, originally written for Laurence Olivier’s version of Shakespeare’s Henry V, is a piece that John Taylor (with Kenny Wheeler one of the album’s dedicatees) used to play (Taylor’s interpretation of the tune can be heard on As It Is by the Peter Erskine Trio). Norma’s words for it encompass more than a film’s scene: “All of his magic/Still lives in her mind/All the sounds and images/Slowly rewind.” Mario Brunello’s cello underscores the song’s sentiment.
 
Sometimes, following her own instincts, Winstone finds new associations for a well-known melody, and Bernard Herrmann’s theme for Scorsese’s Taxi Driver becomes melancholy rather than ominous as Norma sketches another picture of mean streets: “The siren’s lullaby/Goes on into the night/Relentless and mournful, it never ends.”
 
Italian cellist Mario Brunello, whose own recordings have encompassed music from Bach to Ligeti, works a wide scope of music on this album, too, even conjuring a sense of the English countryside on the folk-flavoured theme of “Meryton Townhall” from Joe Wright’s film based on Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice. Here, and on themes for Wim Wenders’s Lisbon Story and Jean-Luc Godard’s Vivre sa vie (added spontaneously to the programme in the course of the recording session) Norma uses her voice wordlessly, as a pure instrument, as she did back in the 1970s when she made her ECM debut in the Azimuth trio with Kenny Wheeler and John Taylor.
In fact, from the beginning of her life in jazz, Norma Winstone has wanted to be part of the ensemble, rather than a frontwoman – interweaving improvised lines with her partners and participating 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 multiple perspectives. On Descansado this is true for the guest musicians as well as for Gesing and Venier, who have worked with Norma for more than fifteen years: their first trio album was Chamber Music, recorded for Universal in 2002, followed by the Grammy nominated Distances (2007), Stories Yet To Tell (2009) and Dance Without Answer (2012).
 
Norma’s other ECM albums include Somewhere Called Home (recorded in 1986 with John Taylor and Tony Coe), and five albums with Azimuth, recorded between 1979 and 1994. She can also be heard on Kenny Wheeler’s Music for Large and Small Ensembles (1990) and Eberhard Weber’s Fluid Rustle (1979).
 
Pianist Glauco Venier recorded his solo album Miniatures for ECM in 2013. Saxophonist and clarinettist Klaus Gesing has played with Anouar Brahem’s ensembles since 2008, and appears on the albums The Astounding Eyes of Rita (2008) and Souvenance (2014). And percussionist Helge Andreas Norbakken has contributed to ECM recordings with Jon Balke’s Magnetic North, Batagraf and Siwan ensembles, as well as projects with Jon Hassell, Miki N’Doye and Mathias Eick (including the forthcoming album Ravensburg).
 
Descansado – Songs for Films was recorded at ArteSuono Studio in Udine, Italy, in March 2017 and produced by Manfred Eicher.