Since emerging on the London Jazz scene in 1966 with an engagement at Ronnie Scott’s Club opposite Roland Kirk, Norma Winstone has worked with many of the major names on the British and European scene. Her voice could be said to define an entire era of British and European Jazz, from reinventions of The Great American Songbook to more abstract excursions into vocal timbre. She recorded five albums for ECM with the group Azimuth, with John Taylor and Kenny Wheeler. Her own album for ECM, “Somewhere Called Home” with John Taylor and saxophonist/clarinetist Tony Coe, has become almost a classic. Her voice has become an important part of Kenny Wheeler’s big band writing and can be heard in this context on the ECM recording “Music for Large and Small Ensembles”
She is a gifted lyricist and has written lyrics for many compositions by Steve Swallow, Kenny Wheeler and Ralph Towner. Her lyrics for the Jimmy Rowles composition “The Peacocks”, which she re-titled “A Timeless Place” has been recorded by many singers including Mark Murphy,Tierney Sutton and The Swingle Singers. She recorded it herself with the composer on an album called “Well Kept Secret” also with George Mraz and Joe LaBarbera. A collaboration with pianist Fred Hersch resulted in an album of his compositions with her lyrics called “Songs and Lullabies”.
Having won the Melody Maker Poll for Best Jazz Vocalist in 1971, she won the same category in the first BBC Jazz Awards in 2001, was nominated again in 2007 and 2008.
She was awarded an MBE in the Queen’s Birthday Honours List for services to music in 2007 and in 2009 won the Jazz Ahead Prize for her contribution to European jazz.
Her European group is a trio featuring Italian pianist Glauco Venier and German saxophonist/bass clarinetist Klaus Gesing.. The group has recorded two CDs on the ECM label, the first of which, ‘Distances’ was nominated for a Grammy in 2008.