Born: Sep 23, 1941 in London, England
Norma Winstone was born in London and 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 (above) and trumpeter Kenny Wheeler (below) 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 ".
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.
Her voice has become an important part of the sound of Kenny Wheeler's big band,
Norma appeared at the 1997 Monterey Jazz Festival (above).
Recent years have found her collaborating with both Scandinavian and Italian musicians in both those countries, and making guest appearances along with Kenny Wheeler on French and Belgian projects to which she also contributed lyrics.
As always, she involves herself in musically interesting and challenging projects whilst continuing her long-standing musical partnerships with Kenny Wheeler and John Taylor.
In 2001, she won the title of Best Vocalist in the BBC Jazz Awards hosted by Humphrey Lyttleton and Jools Holland at London's Queen Elizabeth Hall.
She recently toured in England with the group '4 In Perspective': pianist Fred Hersch, Kenny Wheeler and percussionist Paul Clarvis. This association led to a duo recording with Fred, "Songs and Lullabyes" (his music and her words) which features Gary Burton guesting on some tracks, and is due for release on the American label "Sunnyside" in March 2003.
Norma will be touring in the US in April 2003 in a work "Leaves of Grass", compositions by Fred Hersch based on the poetry of Walt Whitman, and featuring a lineup of some outstanding American musicians including singer Kurt Elling.
She has recently recorded with Italian pianist Glauco Venier and German saxophonist Klaus Gesing a collection of intriguing and original works which she calls "Poems and Miniatures".
Future recording projects include a collaboration with the German NDR big band with arrangements by Mike Gibbs for Provocateur Records, and a recording for ECM with Ralph Towner.
A tour later in the year will see her working with a group of up-and-coming young British musicians in a project devoted to the music of Wayne Shorter.