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Norma Winstone and Kit Downes: Outpost of Dreams

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    Posted: 05 Jul 2024 at 4:57am

Norma Winstone and Kit Downes: Outpost of Dreams review – bonded by jazz tradition (ECM)

NORMA WINSTONE - Norma Winstone & Kit Downes : Outpost of Dreams cover

The esteemed vocalist and prolific pianist weave their sounds together in an album of exquisite songs and extraordinary empathycc

Four and a half decades separate the birthdays of UK vocalist and lyricist Norma Winstone and pianist Kit Downes, but they converse as if they were contemporaries – which in a sense they are, sharing a language separately built from all the inspirations of the jazz tradition.

Winstone is a legend for her vocal agility, quiet power, harmonic sophistication and sensitivity to both lyrics and wordless narratives. And, at 82, she has found her work reaching millions, since being sampled by rap star Drake. The prolific Downes has recordings with jazz luminaries from Andrew Cyrille and Bill Frisell to young Argentinian free-saxophonist Camila Nebbia in the pipeline, and collects the North Sea festival’s most prestigious innovation prize in Rotterdam with his Enemy trio on 13 July. On Outpost of Dreams, this immense shared reservoir of diverse experience and creativity is devoted to four Downes compositions and songs by Carla Bley, guitarist Ralph Towner, pianist John Taylor and Scottish folk-fiddler Aidan O’Rourke.

Winstone has latterly refined her tone to a steadily luminous delicacy in the upper register and a dark glow deep down, and Downes empathically coaxes her thoughts, segued into his own improv variations in the wide spaces she instinctively leaves. The pianist’s opening El releases an exquisite Winstone glide – going from a purr to keening top-end euphoria – that fends off past regrets. Bley’s Jesus Maria becomes an awed gaze at vulnerability and faith, and O’Rourke’s Out of the Dancing Sea projects a woman’s enchantment at glimpses of meaning revealed by the natural world. Downes’s dreamily swaying Nocturne illuminates how free and yet bonded these two are, and if Nina Simone’s treatment of the traditional Black Is the Colour may never be rivalled, the veiled calamity of Winstone’s wistful version comes pretty close.

from www.theguardian.com

Edited by snobb - 05 Jul 2024 at 4:59am
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