Norma Winstone, Descansado: Songs For Films (ECM)
In an album striking for its quietness and its daring, British vocalist Norma Winstone and her augmented trio interpret music from motion pictures. The augmentation is important; Mario Brunello’s cello and Helge Klaus Norbakken’s percussion add breadth and depth to arrangements that buoy Ms. Winstone’s flawless singing and the lyrics that she wrote for the recording. Clarinetist and saxophonist Klaus Gesing and pianist-arranger Glauco Venier continue their essential roles in the trio.
The music comes from films of Vitorio De Sica, Jean-Luc Godard and Federico Fellini, among other directors. The earliest is Laurence Olivier’s 1944 Henry V. Composers include Michel Legrand, Nino Rota, William Walton and Bernard Hermann. Six of the pieces have lyrics by Ms. Winstone. An example of her understanding of a film’s mood—for music from Fellini’s Amarcord (1973), she wrote a stanza capturing the film’s melancholy:
I remember laughter on the air
Footsteps running through the empty square
Mem’ries of the past are all around
On the ancient streets where ghosts are found
The delicacy required for the aural relationships between Ms. Winstone’s voice and the instruments is impeccably observed by ECM engneer Stefano Almerio and producer Manfred Eicher. In its depth and balance, the sound quality is virtually a sixth member of the ensemble.
And Ms. Winstone is perfect for the material. Or is it the other way around?
Coming soon: We check in on other recent ECM releases.