Born in London, Norma first attracted attention in the late sixties when she shared the bill at Ronnie Scott’s club with Roland Kirk. Although she began her career singing jazz standards, she became involved in the avant garde movement, exploring the use of the voice in an experimental way and evolving her own wordless approach to improvisation.
She joined groups led by Mike Westbrook, Michael Garrick and sang with John Surman, Kenny Wheeler, Michael Gibbs and John Taylor, and worked extensively with many of the major European names and visiting Americans.
In 1971 she was voted top singer in the Melody Maker Jazz Poll and subsequently recorded her own album ‘Edge of Time‘ for Decca, which although long deleted has now been re-released as a CD on the Disconforme label.
In the late seventies she joined pianist John Taylor and trumpeter Kenny Wheeler to form the group Azimuth, which was described by Richard Williams of The Times as “one of the most imaginatively conceived and delicately balanced of all contemporary chamber jazz groups“.
Her own legendary album ‘Somewhere Called Home‘ on the ECM label is widely considered to be a classic.
In recent years she has become known as a very fine lyricist, writing words to compositions by Ralph Towner, and Brazilian composers Egberto Gismonti and Ivan Lins (who has recorded her English lyrics to his song ‘Vieste‘). She has a special affinity with the music of Steve Swallow, and has written lyrics to many of his compositions, most notably ‘Ladies in Mercedes‘, which has become a standard.
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Jazz Journal“One of the Glories of contemporary Jazz ”
Tony Sloman, Pizza On the Park““Sets herself impossibly high standards, and then surpasses them.” ”
Thomas Conrad, Down Beat Magazine““Norma Winstone’s instrument: an unfettered intelligence spinning tales with language…or without” ”
Don Heckman, Los Angeles Times““.. a superb example of state-of-the-art, imaginative, virtually beyond-definition singing.” ”
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