Norma Winstone and Kit Downes: Outpost of Dreams review | John Fordham’s jazz album of the month

The esteemed vocalist and prolific pianist weave their sounds together in an album of exquisite songs and extraordinary empathy

Four and a half decades separate the birthdays of UK vocalist and lyricist Norma Winstone and pianist Kit Downes, but they converse as if they were contemporaries – which in a sense they are, sharing a language separately built from all the inspirations of the jazz tradition.

Winstone is a legend for her vocal agility, quiet power, harmonic sophistication and sensitivity to both lyrics and wordless narratives. And, at 82, she has found her work reaching millions, since being sampled by rap star Drake. The prolific Downes has recordings with jazz luminaries from Andrew Cyrille and Bill Frisell to young Argentinian free-saxophonist Camila Nebbia in the pipeline, and collects the North Sea festival’s most prestigious innovation prize in Rotterdam with his Enemy trio on 13 July. On Outpost of Dreams, this immense shared reservoir of diverse experience and creativity is devoted to four Downes compositions and songs by Carla Bley, guitarist Ralph Towner, pianist John Taylor and Scottish folk-fiddler Aidan O’Rourke.

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