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Luminous! A terrific overview of Winter's work!
on May 26, 2003
This 2-CD set offers a sampling of the innovative and varied work of saxophonist Paul winter, the Paul Winter Consort, and various colleagues they've recorded with through the decades. The collection itself is well-chosen and well-arranged, with a wonderful energy about it that builds and carries, sings and soars, and constantly reinvents itself. Elements of jazz, ethnic and chamber music blend into styles all their own, defying categorization to the point that new terms have had to be invented over the years for the Winter consort's repertoire, such as "world chamber music" and "cathedral blues". What I like most about Paul Winter's recordings are the seamless combinations of instruments and sounds from strikingly different cultures and musical styles. I mean, where else can you hear a trio for Uilleann pipes, soprano saxophone and the pipe organ of the world's largest cathedral? An unlikely combination, and yet it works beautifully in the hands of these talented improvisational masters, sensitive enough both to their own instruments and to each other's that they are easily able to stretch limits and blur boundaries. On these recordings, many other instrumentalists mix and match their talents as well: players of jazz staples like guitar, piano, bass and drums; classical masters of cello, flute, oboe and French horn; vocalists; and players of bansuri flute, tanpura, and an array of world percussion. The most unusual of all the musical collaborators would have to be the whales and wolves, whose recorded voices don't just add background ambience but actually create melodies to which harmony, descant and rhythm are then added for a truly unique and pleasing effect. It is amazing how well Winter's fluid soprano saxophone can mimic and complement the calls of both animals. Ultimately, however, this is not music that merely seeks to be unusual; it is eminently listenable--ranging in tone from rousingly joyous to calming and gently transporting. Even better, these are musical compositions--constantly adding layers and moods, blending new elements in and out, never just boring repetitions of simple riffs and phrases. Do yourself a favor and check out Paul Winter and friends! They are masters of their craft, continually forging new frontiers. This collection of their work is a good place to start; it has power, depth, and will surely whet your appetite for more!