CHRIS LAURENCE was born in London and studied at the Guildhall school of music. Since then he has maintained a dual career in both jazz and classical music. He plays regularly with John Surman, Kenny Wheeler, John Taylor and Norma Winstone. In the classical world he was principal double bass with the Academy of St. Martin in the Fields until 1995, playing on many of their famous recordings ranging from the film "Amadeus" to Benjamin Britten's "Curlew River". Jazz artists he has recorded with include trombonist J.J. Johnson, Tony Coe, Joe Williams, Sarah Voughan, Norma Winstone and Johnny Mathis. Most recent recordings are John Surman’s "Coruscating" Andy Sheppard's "Dancing Man and Woman", Kenny Wheeler’s "Kayak" and Norma Winstone's "Manhattan in the rain". He also spends a lot of time recording music for T.V, film and albums, most notably "Leaving Las Vegas" and "The Man who Cried" with the Kronos Quartet. As well as jazz and classical music Chris has also featured on albums with many stars including Elton John, Sting, David Gilmour and guitarist John Williams. www,chrislaurencebass.com
RICOTTI was voted Melody Maker’s Top Vibraphone player
back in his teens, since when he has remained constantly in demand for
his work on records, film scores, jingles and TV shows and is the first
choice percussionist for many artists, valued for his creative input.
PARRICELLI began his professional guitar playing career in 1982,
and has since worked in various areas of music. He was one of the founder
members of Loose Tubes in the 80's, touring and recording three albums.
Since then he has pursued a varied career, working with Kenny Wheeler,
Andy Sheppard, Iain Ballamy, Norma Winstone, Lee Konitz, Paul Motian,
Julian Arguelles, Tim Whitehead, Eddie Parker, WDR Band with Peter Erskine
and Vince Mendoza, Mark Lockheart, Martin Speake, Annie Whitehead and
Gerard Presencer amongst others.
In 1971 she was voted top singer in the Melody Maker Jazz Poll and subsequently recorded her own album Edge of Time for Decca.
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". AZIMUTH has recorded several albums on the ECM label (the first three of which have been re-issued as a CD boxed set). Their CD How It Was Then... Never Again was released in May 1995, and received four stars in Down Beat magazine. Her voice has also become an important part of the sound of Kenny Wheeler's big band, and can be heard in this context on the ECM double CD "Music for Large and Small Ensembles"
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.
Her CD "Well Kept Secret", recorded with the legendary American pianist Jimmy Rowles, and featuring George Mraz (bass), Joe La Barbera (drums), was given a four star rating in Down Beat magazine. Here Norma sings a selection of rare jazz standards, including Jimmy's famous tune 'The Peacocks' for which she wrote lyrics, and re-titled 'A Timeless Place'. She has recorded a number of other CDs under her own name.
In 2001, she won the title of Best Vocalist in the BBC Jazz Awards.
She recently toured England with the group '4 In Perspective' featuring pianist Fred Hersch, trumpeter Kenny Wheeler and percussionist Paul Clarvis which led to a duo recording with Fred, "Songs and Lullabyes" (Sunnyside Label), Norma has also just recorded "Poems and Miniatures", with Italian pianist Glauco Venier and German saxophonist Klaus Gesing.
Norma appeared at the London Jazz Festival in 2006 and toured with the NDR Big Band with Colin Town’s new Zappa tribute “Hot Licks and Funny Smells”.
When previewing some of the material on this album at the Vortex in October 2006, bassist/leader Chris Laurence used reedsman Julian Siegel and pianist Pete Saberton, plus drummer Martin France; only France is featured on the recording, the quartet otherwise including vibes player Frank Ricotti and guitarist John Parricelli. The resulting sound is therefore relatively unusual, Ricotti's vibes in particular imparting a soft, lustrous feel to the music, and Parricelli's judicious alternation between electric and acoustic instruments bringing additional textural variety to the mix. The quartet's repertoire is drawn mainly from compositions by musicians with whom Laurence has worked regularly (Stan Sulzmann, Kenny Wheeler, John Surman, John Taylor), and it is approached with the scrupulous adherence to musicianly values that has characterised Laurence's approach over the years; the overall impression is thus of control, balance and attention to nuance, but this delicacy and care conceals considerable power, even in the album's quietest moments. France in particular is essential to this process, seldom actually stating, but always tellingly implying the beat, and both Parricelli (who produces a number of cogent solos, but is also a master of the effective accompanying touch, a swooning chord here, a spiky little run there) and Ricotti's burnished, glowing vibes explore the album's various themes with characteristic elegance and tastefulness. It is Laurence, however, who quietly and unassumingly takes centre stage, his intensely melodic but propulsive playing always drawing the ear, whether he's playing arco theme statements or setting up subtly vigorous fingered bass patterns under his soloists. Also including a couple of vocal tracks from Norma Winstone (Joni Mitchell's 'Last Chance Lost', from Turbulent Indigo a particular highlight), this is a superb album, initially easy on the ear, yet revealing fresh subtleties each time it's played.