Norma Winstone + support by Louise Dodds, The Jazz Bar, Edinburgh, Scotland, 21 February 2020.

The unusually prolonged dreich weather this winter may have dampened the general spirits somewhat, so tonight’s dazzling jazz programming was particularly cheering. As part of this month’s inaugural Scottish Jazz Weekend, Edinburgh’s The Jazz Bar hosted a truly lovely evening of two of the UK’s finest jazz singers: Scot, Louise Dodds, followed by England’s Norma Winstone.

Local singer and composer Dodds presented a seven-song set – her trademark mix of Standards and self-penned – delivered with great expressiveness and clarity, together with helpful explanations of each song, to an appreciative full-house audience. Piano accompaniment by Aberdonian Steve Hamilton was exemplary.

Top billing however naturally went to long-time star of the jazz lounge, Winstone, who presented two sets of Standards. The singing was exquisite – technically flawless, with superb diction and an interestingly powerful command over the audience. We seemed to be drawn deep inside each song. Accompanied by similarly top-flight musicians: omnipresent keysman Kit Downes (of Vyamanikal and other bands) and guitarist Mike Walker (of The Impossible Gentlemen and others) the sense was of an accomplished trio rather than a vocalist with accompanists.

Sadly, due to circumstances beyond my control I was unable to remain for the second set, but if the first set was anything to go by, this whole concert will have been a vocal jazz highlight of the season. Winstone had noted at the outset that this was her first time back in Edinburgh for a very long time, so let’s hope the very warm welcome she received encourages another visit soon.

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