Paul Sullivan, pianist and 35-year member of the Paul Winter Consort, finds it wonderful that Winter was always open to music from around the world. For example, Sullivan writes:
“It wasn’t uncommon for us to gather on a Tuesday for a concert on Thursday at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine in New York. For example, we’d be introduced to an Armenian singer and an Irish uileann pipe player who would meet each other at the same time and we’d all work together to create a concert in two days to be performed for thousands of people. It was just great! Paul would put all these wildly disparate elements together and shape them into a cooperative whole. It would be “why don’t you try this…” and “why not try that…” You might end up with an uileann pipe and a pipe organ improvisation. You don’t hear that every day. We were all open to it.
“It’s a great attribute of Paul Winter’s that he really flings his arms wide to different kinds of music in the world, and that he has faith that his musicians can bring it all together.”
Paul Winter is a fascinating and fabulous one-of-a-kind musician and, during an era of climate change, an important public advocate for environmental preservation.
The following photo is the final few minutes of Paul Winter’s 35th-year annual Winter Solstice, December 2018, a multi-media music, dance, and lights event staged at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine in New York City.
Bob Gluck, pianist, composer, writer, traces Paul Winter’s early career as a jazz musician, his discovery of Brazilian music, his concept of a musical “Consort,” and his engagement with whales and wolves as endangered species. He explores Winter’s ancestral roots in musical spectacle and the evolution of the Winter Solstice Celebration in the Cathedral of St. John the Divine in New York City.
Gluck is the author of two books about the experimental periods of Herbie Hancock and Miles Davis, both published by the University of Chicago Press.
He is professor of music at the University of Albany, New York.
Photograph by Joel Chadabe, December 20, 2018
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Paul Winter has traveled a fascinating path, from a small central Pennsylvania railroad town to an unexpected career as a college jazz musician in Chicago to touring South America at the invitation of the U.S. State Department and playing at the Kennedy White House. He played in Russia, recorded in the Grand Canyon, discovered the music of Brazil, organized a town party for Charles Ives’ birthday, and has made decades of wonderful genre-bending Consort music with his evolving groups of collaborative, talented, and expressive musicians.
In telling the story, Bob Gluck draws upon personal observations of Winter’s concerts and workshops given by band members David Darling and Susan Osborn, and personal interviews with Darling, Osborn, and Jim Scott, who provide deeper insight to supplement the many published interviews given by Winter, Ralph Towner, Glen Moore, Paul McCandless, and Collin Walcott.
Paul Winter also addresses issues about endangered species and environments from a place of love and empathy and his music is aesthetically beautiful and enchanting. He has a gift for melody and he speaks with infectious optimism. Listening to his lilting melodies based on the songs of the humpback whale or the howls of the timber wolf brings tears to the ears of his listeners. It is something one can experience by attending one of his concerts. Winter is able to guide audience members to let go of their inhibitions and howl en masse like a pack of wolves.
This book blends academic scholarship, musical reflection, and captivating narrative. In Gluck’s words, Paul Winter addresses issues about endangered species and environments from a place of love and empathy and his music is aesthetically beautiful and enchanting.
Wolf Eyes and last minutes of Solstice
Go to paulwinter.com/recordings for access to Paul Winter’s music.