Become a member and get exclusive access to articles, live sessions and more!
Start Your Free Trial

Overdue Ovation: Vocalist Norma Winstone

The anti-diva

Norma Winstone
Norma Winstone
Norma Winstone

Bill Evans’ You Must Believe in Spring was about a decade old when, in the early ’90s, it caught the attention of British jazz singer Norma Winstone. She was particularly taken with Evans’ interpretation of Jimmy Rowles’ “The Peacocks” and decided to fit lyrics to it, subsequently recording it for German radio. Pleased with the results, she found an address for Rowles, whom she’d never met, and mailed him a copy. No response. So she decided to call. Rowles insisted he’d never received it but promised to listen if she sent a replacement. He also warned her that lyrics already existed.

Soon afterward, Rowles called to say that he loved her words. It became “A Timeless Place.” He asked Winstone whom she planned to record it with. She responded, “How about you?” and, she notes two decades later, “I ended up going to Los Angeles to record with him. He wanted to use [bassist] George Mraz, who surely only agreed to do it to play with Rowles again, and [drummer] Joe LaBarbera, and Well Kept Secret was created.” By the time of that L.A. session, Winstone was already hugely respected as a vocalist, improviser and lyricist and as one-third of the boldly avant-garde Azimuth, with pianist John Taylor and trumpeter/flugelhornist Kenny Wheeler. Yet, she insists, the well-kept secret was she.

Start Your Free Trial to Continue Reading

Become a JazzTimes member to explore our complete archive of interviews, profiles, columns, and reviews written by music's best journalists and critics.
Originally Published