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Norma’s Conquest of Paris


Every so often there’s a buzz – from somewhere abroad – about Norma Winstone.

A few years ago, her back catalogue was being re-issued by an outright chancer in Japan. Then she won a major prize in Germany and started getting called the “Grande Dame” of European Jazz singing. Then her first ECM album Distances got nominated for a Grammy.

And now with the release of her second ECM album “Stories Yet to Tell” (ECM 273 7426) due on Monday, the strongest buzz is coming from this building in Paris:

It’s the Maison de Radio France, from where Alex Dutilh’s prime-time, drive- time, five nights a a week jazz show Open Jazz, at 7.05 on France-Musique gets broadcast. The show restarts after the holidays on Monday. As he puts it in his blog, it will “démarrer en trombe” – (start with the foot on the floor)- with a feature about the new album. I received a review copy last night. On first hearing I think it’s the best thing she’s ever done. Here’s John Fordham’s review. And there’s also a rave review in German from the SZ newspaper, (but someone will need to explain to me – with diagrams and formulae as necessary – how Norma’s singing gets to be described as “snorkel-less.” Uh?)

Norma Winstone will be at the Barbican Centre as part of the London Jazz Festival on Wednesday November 17th.

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