BY MICHAEL TOLAND
British singer Norma Winstone’s career stretches back to the seventies, with solo albums, but also the well-regarded trio Azimuth with trumpeter Kenny Wheeler and pianist John Taylor and collaborations with Eberhard Weber and Wheeler’s solo ensembles to her name. A collection of songs taken from film soundtracks, Descansado features Winstone with her working band pianist Glauco Venier and woodwindist Klaus Gesing, joined by percussionist Helge Andreas Norbakken and cellist Mario Brunello. Though famous for her wordless vocalizations (well represented here by “Meryton Townhall,” from 2005’s Pride and Prejudice, and Vivra Sa Vie,” from the 1962 film of the same name), Winstone is also a lyricist, adding new words to traditionally instrumental pieces like “Touch Her Soft Lips and Part,” from 1944’s Henry V, and the title track, from 1963’s Ieri, Oggi, Domani. Putting unintended words to pre-existing, often classic, tunes seems like a bad idea on the face of it, but Winstone gets away with it. Whether a natural talent or gained through her decades of experience, she’s a tasteful lyricist, sensitive to the melody’s needs, and conscious of adding to the song’s already extant legacy, rather than detract from it. This ability allows her to put words to Bernard Hermann’s “Theme From Taxi Driver,” giving the tune a melancholy spin that adds extra depth without dissolving the menace. Descansado is reinterpretation at its best, respectful of the source but unafraid to add the artist’s own aesthetic to the vision.
DOWNLOAD: “Vivra Sa Vie,” “Theme From Taxi Driver,” “Descansado”