PREVIEW / INTERVIEW: Norma Winstone (Jazz with a View Series, City of London Festival, 26th June)

Norma Winstone at the 2012 London Jazz Festival
Photo credit: Melody McLaren
The duo of vocalist Norma Winstone and pianist Gwilym Simcock will be performing in the “Jazz with a View” series, part of the City of London Festival, on 26th June, at the top of Unilever House, overlooking Blackfriars Bridge. The series also has concerts by Jeremy Monteiro, Anita Wardell (Ella in London) and Arve Henriksen (LIST HERE). Sebastian spoke to her by phone and asked her about her collaboration with Gwilym Simcock: 

LondonJazz News: What’s it like working with Gwilym Simcock?

Norma Winstone: It’s easy because he can play anything Last time, we did a couple of tunes by Michael MacDonald. I happened to say I liked this or this song …..and there he was, playing it!

LJN: Can you remember when you first became aware of him?

NW: It was when he was still a student at the Royal Academy of Music. He did a gig with one of Kenny Wheeler’s bands, a 13-piece. The band already had two pianos but Kenny Wheeler really wanted to include him somehow, so there he was playing french horn.

LJN: But your paths have crossed through other things..

NW: Yes, we’ve crossed over with some of Kenny’s things and Steve Swallow. We played together with Kenny Wheeler’s big band we did a couple of tours. We would do a duet on How Deep is the Ocean before Kenny’s Big Band arrangement of it

And another time Evan Parker decided that he’ d like to record Gwilym – Kenny was on some of it – I sang on some tunes. It never came out as a release, but we had that experience.

LJN: And duo gigs?

NW: We’ve done a few duo gigs. One was a few years ago for the Deal Music Festival, which is mostly classical but they do put on one or two other things. It was at the time when Gwilym was a BBC New Generation Artist, that was how they’d heard of him, so they asked me to do something and they commissioned him to do arrangements. There was a photo exhibition by Harold Chapman who had taken photos of the beat poets was living round here in the area where I live too. So Gwilym did settings of poems by some of these beat poets.

LJN: When was the last time you did a duo, what kind of repertoire do you perform?

NW: Last October, a duo gig for the Canterbury Festival, we did all kinds of things.

There are one or two standards we normally do, like A Nightingale Sang and we’ll sometimes do something of Kenny Wheeler’s. We might do one or two of Steve Swallow’s. I did a gig in Italy and Gwilym arranged some Steve Swallow for the trio, with Ben Davis on Cello. There’s also I Can Let Go Now and Minute by Minute by Michael McDonald, perhaps. It can be anything, there’s quite a lot that we can resurrect – we really do a cross-section.

I played a gig with him in a series at the Pheasantry. It was when Gwilym had broken his hand.  They got in a guitarist, Chris Montague, but quite honestly – I said it at the time – he played better with one hand than some people can with two!

LJN: Apart from this duo gig in the City of London Festival, what else is coming up for you in the UK?

NW: The next thing is the Printmakers album with a tour around that in May and June

Then there’s the trio. (with Klaus Gesing and Glauco Venier) The most recent album Dance Without Answer came out, the third on ECM, in January 2014, And it’s quite unusual, the trio has UK dates, in August. There’s Brecon and Pizza Express and there may be some others…

BOOKINGS for Norma Winstone and Gwilym Simcock in the Jazz with a View Series, City of London Festival, 26th June

Categories: miscellaneous

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