Norma Winstone - Stories yet to Tell (2010)
By Mark Saleski
A variant of the I remember exactly where I was when I first heard this" thing is the phenomenon of incomplete Déjà Vu. This occurs when you hear a piece of music and it seems totally familiar...except...hmmm...what was it?
The music of vocalist Norma Winstone reminds me of my Aunt Rose's figurine collection. More specifically, it was a couple of details about her bedroom. When I was a little kid, I loved to visit her and marvel at her small assortment of glass musical instruments. They could fit in the palm of your hand, but the amount of detail was quite amazing. The piano, the string bass, the harp (my favorite), the fact that a glassblower could make these things seemed like pure magic to me.
Rose kept a small AM radio on her side table that she tuned to one of those oldies/songs of your life kind of stations. It played a constant, quiet stream of Tony Bennett, Sinatra, Sarah Vaughan...I came to associate those sounds with her.
All of these years later, voices that produce just the right level of intimate detail can bring back that time. On Stories Yet To Tell, Winstone, along with Klaus Gesing (bass clarinet, soprano sax), and Glauco Venier (piano) take that intimacy to new levels with a program of compositions both modern (from Venier and Gesing as well as Wayne Shorter and Maria Schneider) and weatheredgoing all the way back to the 13th century with En Mort d'En Joan de Cucanh." Winstone's crystalline voice and her intuitive instrumental cohorts serve the music well. With just piano and a single horn, there is plenty of space to give the melodies room to breath. Winstone's voice sometimes runs in unison with one of the other instruments, while at other times, Venier and Gesing provide aural commentary to the sung lines.
The lyrics, written mostly by Winstone, do what all good poetry does: distill ideas down to their essence. A good point of reference might be Joni Mitchell during her Hejira/Don Juan's Reckless Daughter period, but within a quieter, more intense instrumental framework.
Give Stories Yet To Tell a listen...and reintroduce yourself to a few memories you haven't made yet.