I made my way back to Xerox Auditorium to see British vocalist Norma Winstone, who offered up a set of musically intricate pieces; her performance was one of the more sophisticated I'd seen at Jazz Fest. Her voice is reminiscent of Joni Mitchell, and her first tune supported the comparison. It was lyrically driven and focused heavily on Winstone's raspy melodies. The whole affair was composed and reserved -- making it starkly different from other festival performances.
The most interesting component of Winstone's set was undoubtedly the non-lyric vocal play. Between lyrics, she sang a combination of nonsense syllables, glottal sounds, and stop-plosives. Each line weaved deliberately between the melodic lines played by her trio-mates on piano and bass clarinet. The resulting sound was something tribal and ethereal, quite haunting, and strikingly beautiful.
Though quite lovely, Winstone's music is clearly a divergence from the Jazz Fest norm. This was made apparent by the way audience members seemed unable to take in a full song without entering or leaving Xerox Auditorium. Again, I found this to be incredibly distracting. The festival's many tent venues and outdoor stages clearly lend themselves to a more social environment. If that's what you're looking for, see a show there.