Norma Winstone, Glauco Venier, Klaus Gesing

Norma Winstone, England’s finest jazz vocalist, returns with a trio featuring German reedman Klaus Gesing and Italian pianist Glauco Venier (both of whom make their ECM debuts here) and a superb programme that takes in songs from Cole Porter to Peter Gabriel, a free calypso, a tribute to Coltrane, adaptations of Satie, folk songs, Pasolini and more and flows like an extended suite. Winstone’s lyrics reveal a real poetic sensibility, and both Gesing and Venier are fine jazz composers who put their considerable instrumental skills in the service of the songs. The result: a unique and special group language and one of the season’s outstanding recordings.

Featured Artists Recorded

April 2007, Artesuono Recording Studio, Udine

  • 1Distance
    (Norma Winstone, Glauco Venier)
  • 2Every Time We Say Goodbye
    (Cole Porter)
  • 3Drifter
    (Norma Winstone, Klaus Gesing)
  • 4Giant's Gentle Stride
    (Norma Winstone, Klaus Gesing)
  • 5Gorizia
    (Glauco Venier)
  • 6Ciant
    (Pier Paolo Pasolini, Eric Satie)
  • 7The Mermaid
    (Norma Winstone, Glauco Venier)
  • 8Here Comes The Flood
    (Peter Gabriel)
  • 9Remembering The Start Of A Never Ending Story
    (Norma Winstone, Hubert Nuss)
  • 10A Song For England
    (Andrew Salkey, Glauco Venier, Klaus Gesing, Norma Winstone)
Stereoplay, Die Audiophile
The sense of unity and coherence of mood, atmosphere and imagination that pervades these 10 tracks is exceptional by any standards. A fine lyricist herself, Winstone loves both contemporary songwriters and the Great American Songbook and Distances features both a delightful, fragmentary “Every Time We Say Goodbye” and Peter Gabriel’s haunting “Here Comes The Flood”. … Perhaps the most beautiful piece here is “Ciant”, where Venier has set words by Paulo Pasolini to a tune by Erik Satie and which features the most lyrical of soprano solos from Gesing. It defines the partnership that made this record and that makes this group so special.
Duncan Heining, Jazzwise
Now in her late sixties, Norma Winstone continues to show her juniors what it means to be a genuinely original jazz singer. Here, everything fits together – Winstone’s ethereal, gently sad tone, the softgrained sound-world and the harmonic subtlety of her two young co-musicians, Italian pianist Glacuo Venier and German clarinettist and saxophonist Klaus Gesing.
Ivan Hewett, Daily Telegraph
Distances had a rather protracted gestation period. For an album with a remit to draw on sources as widely placed as Erik Satie, Pier Paolo Pasolini, John Coltrane and Cole Porter that’s not such a bad thing and certainly this material, now committed to disc, feels roomy and lived in. … Winstone… sings with coolly controlled passion as always – and is this a cert for end-of-year-charts? I’d say so.
Philip Clark, Jazzreview
Winstone has sung straighter, and revisited standards more in recent times, but this is a more idiosyncratically personal reverie – on beautiful material inspired by Coltrane, Pasolini, Cole Porter, Peter Gabriel, Erik Satie and more. Winstone’s remarkable voice, which manages to be both sumptuous and airily ethereal at once, is complemented by Italian pianist Glauco Venier and German reeds-player Klaus Gesing.
John Fordham, The Guardian
Es ist, als erhöbe sich mit dieser traumhaft durchgezeichneten CD eine verjüngte Version von „Azimuth“ wie ein Phönix aus der Asche alter Erfolge. Ganz organisch begleiten der italienische Pianist Glauco Venier und der zwischen Sopransax und Bassklarinette wechselnde Klaus Gesing die reif wie mädchenhaft klingende Norma Winstone mit hinreißendem Gespür für Raum und Zeit. Dazu funkelt die Stimme der 67-jährigen mit sanft schwebender Poesie von anrührender Zartheit. Wie perfekt die drei mit Emotionen spielen, zeigt sich an Peter Gabriels „Here Comes The Flood“ – anbetungswürdig.
Sven Thielmann, Stereoplay
Norma Winstone verbindet auf ihrer jüngsten CD mit dem deutschen Klarinettisten und Sopransaxofonisten Klaus Gesing und dem friulanischen Pianisten Glauco Venier die hohe Kunst des Lieds mit der nur scheinbar trivialeren des Songs. Sie war … eine Pionierin des instrumental improvisierten Gesangs, und ihre Herkunft aus dem britischen Free Jazz der sechziger Jahre hat sie nicht verleugnet. Aber sie hat sich gewissermaßen domestiziert in einem kammermusikalischen Rahmen, zumal im Trio Azimuth…
Jetzt mit Gesing und Venier, übertrifft sie die integrierte Kammer-Kunst von Azimuth noch. Es sind Lieder mit Worten aus unterschiedlichsten Bereichen: von Cole Porters „Every Time We Say Goodbye“ (in einer hinreißend spröden Version) über Peter Gabriels „Here Comes The Flood“ bis hin zu „Ciant“, einer von Satie ausgehenden Melodie des Pianisten Venier. Nicht zu vergessen die vielen eigenen Texte, die nie banal sind. …
Ein großes, kleines Gesamtkunstwerk, in dem sich Zurücknahme und kollektive Spiellust in einer altmodischen (oder eben neuen) Qualität finden. Innigkeit. Man wagt das Wort kaum auszusprechen.
Peter Rüedi, Die Zeit
Dies ist eine vollkommen eigene Kammermusik, karg instrumentiert, minimalistisch, konzentriert, ausgewogen, mild und in sich ruhend. In gewisser Weise schreibt Norma Winstone in ihrem Dienst am Song die fast 20-jährige Geschichte von Azimuth fort, ihres Trios mit John Taylor und Kenny Wheeler. Viel mehr aber leuchtet sie im neuen Trio mit dem deutschen Bassklarinettisten und Sopransaxofonisten Klaus Gesing und dem italienischen Pianisten Glauco Venier in kompaktem und doch luftigem, auf Solos verzichtendem Gruppenklang die Valenzen lyrischer Vorlagen aus. … Das schlagzeug- und basslose Trio nimmt sich souverän Raum. … Überlegt-überlegen entschlackte Arrangements rücken sie zueinander und lassen sie überzeugend miteinander korrespondieren.
Ulrich Steinmetzger, Jazzthing
“Distances” Norma Winstone’s first ECM recording in a decade is a project that indeed traverses territories, its wide-ranging repertoire embracing original material, tributes to Coltrane and to Pasolini, cover versions from Cole Porter to Peter Gabriel, pieces inspired by Italian folk music and by Erik Satie, a free calypso and more. For all its broad focus, however,b the music is unified by the rigorous control the musicians exert upon their material. This is jazz of chamber music sensibility and precision, by a trio that improvises in a clearly-defined group language. German reedman Klaus Gesing and Italian pianist Glauco Venier have been influenced by Winstone’s earlier recordings, but they work with the material in ways entirely their own.

Both making ECM debuts here, Venier and Gesing have been active as duo partners for more than a decade. Guesting with them eight years ago Winstone recognized at once the potential for trio work: “it was very clear that there was a real possibility of the music developing.” The work has progressed on several levels. Both Venier and Gesing are imaginative composers and Winstone, a great singer still underrated as a lyricist, adds words that extend the atmospheres of the pieces with a poet’s sure touch. Conversely, piano and bass clarinet or soprano sax frequently underline the meaning of the words. The trio is more of a ‘songs band’ than was Azimuth which emphasized the voice-as-instrument (an approach revisited here on the song “Gorizia”).
2024 June 02 Sendesaal Bremen, Germany