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Posted on on March 10th, 2017
by Pincas Jawetz (

Paul Winter’s musical realm has long embraced the traditions of the world’s cultures, as well as the extraordinary voices of what he refers to as “the greater symphony of the Earth.” The saxophonist, bandleader and composer has recorded more than 40 albums, and won 7 Grammy Awards. His concert tours and recording expeditions have taken him to 52 countries and to wilderness areas on six continents, into which he has traveled on rafts, mules, dog sleds, horses, kayaks, sailboats, steamers, tug-boats and Land Rovers. With his music, he has found a means to connect people to a sense of place and promote relatedness to the larger community of life. His benefit concerts and various compositions have served the causes of environment and peace in a range of countries, including Russia, Brazil, Israel, Japan, and Spain.

Paul Winter Consort Launched in 1967 has became a forum for the whole range of musical genres Winter had come to love – from Bach to African music – including as well notable voices from the symphony of nature (as the whale, wolf, and eagle). Winter took the name from Elizabethan times and the house bands of Shakespearean Theatre, which adventurously blended woodwinds, strings and percussion—the same families of instruments he wanted to combine in his ‘contemporary’ consort — and allowed the players to embellish on the written parts.
With this group, Winter became one of the earliest exponent’s of world music.

The Consort recorded twelve albums for major labels during the 1960s and 1970s. Four albums for A & M were produced by Paul Stookey and Phil Ramone, and one for Epic, named Icarus that bridged small-combo jazz and world music. This was produced by Beatles mentor George Martin, who claimed in his autobiography it was ”the finest record I ever made.” Astronauts of Apollo 15 took the Consort’s album Road to the moon with them and named two craters after the songs “Ghost Beads” and “Icarus.”

In 1972, with cellist David Darling, Winter organized a new ensemble, while original band members Ralph Towner, Paul McCandless, Collin Walcott and Glen Moore launched their experimental jazz band Oregon.

Earth Music Genre

In 1968, hearing recordings of the songs of humpback whales further expanded Winter’s musical community. These sounds not only opened the door to the whole symphony of nature, but turned the saxophonist into an activist, affecting the course of his musical life. In 1975, Winter sailed aboard the Greenpeace V anti-whaling expedition for three days of playing saxophone to wild gray whales off the coast of Vancouver Island (Tofino). He was accompanied in this effort by Melville Gregory and Will Jackson, musicians attempting to “communicate” with the whales using various instruments and a Serge synthesizer. Photos of Winter and the whales [by Rex Weyler] appeared on wire services and in media around the world, helping the ultimate success of the mission against Soviet whalers. [AP Wire Service, 1975; “Warriors of the Rainbow”, Robt. Hunter 1978; “Greenpeace”, Rex Weyler, 2003; “Once Upon A Greenpeace”, Will Jackson, 2012]

In addition to combining elements of African, Asian, Latin, and Russian music with American jazz, Winter became one of the first to incorporate the voices of nature and wildlife into his compositions. Beguiled by the poignant vocalizations of whales and the haunting, bluesey communal celebration of a howling pack of wolves, Winter was inspired to explore ways to consort musically with these creatures. This led the way to Winter pioneering another new genre – his unique “earth music.” Described as “ecological jazz” by fans in Russia, “La Fusion Animal,” in Spain, and “earth jazz” in Japan, it interweaves classical, jazz and world music elements with voices from nature. The landmark album Common Ground in 1977 was Winter’s first endeavor to incorporate the voices of whale, eagle and wolf into his music.

As a part of Earth Music, Winter and his ensemble have honed their appreciation of resonance, and for making music in spaces of great reverberation. The Canyon album was recorded over four river-rafting and recording trips through the Grand Canyon. The Cathedral of St. John the Divine in New York, where Winter is artist-in-residence, shares a similar seven-second reverberation. Crestone and Prayer for the Wild Things were recorded in remote natural places with resonant acoustics; Miho: Journey to the Mountain was recorded in the acoustics of the Miho Museum designed by I.M. Pei.

In recognition of his musical and ecological work, Winter has received a Global 500 Award from the United Nations, the Joseph Wood Krutch Medal from the United States Humane Society, the Peace Abbey’s Courage of Conscience Award, the Spirit of the City Award presented at New York’s Cathedral of St John the Divine, and an honorary Doctorate of Music from the University of Hartford, among others.


Paul Winter and his musicians will cross to Israel from Jordan
and the two concerts mentioned are:

Thursday, March 16, 2017 – at the Jerusalem YMCA, at 20:00 or 8:00 PM

Tuesday, March 21, 2017 – at the auditorium of the Center for the Studies of the Dead Sea,
at the feet of the Mezadah (MASADA) Mountain, at 19:30 or 7:30 PM.


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