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Azimuth: How It Was Then… Never Again

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Azimuth is pianist John Taylor, vocalist Norma Winstone, and trumpeter Kenny Wheeler, and their music-earthy yet ethereal, minimalist yet often complex-is as inventive as their instrumentation is unique.

Winstone assumes a multitude of roles. Her rendering of the original title track’s off-beat blues-oriented lyrics adds a interpretive poetic touch, while at other times she uses her agile voice purely for effect (“Whirlpool”). Likewise, Wheeler’s brass work alternates between coloring the mood at hand and playing it more straight, rendering long lines with great fluidity (listen to the hocketing on his multi-tracked reading of “How Deep Is The Ocean”). Nevertheless, the anchor remains Taylor, who eerily merges with Winstone’s voice (“Whirlpool”), provides flexible underpinning (the title track, “Mindiatyr”), and constantly explores improvisational corridors. Sublimely artful but hardly qualifying as jazz in the conventional sense, Azimuth’s music is beyond categorization.