PAUL WINTER SEXTET, COUNT ME IN


Before establishing the Paul Winter Consort, a group that found fame playing jazz with new age tendencies (“Icarus” was a very popular recording in the 70’s), saxophonist Paul Winter led a sextet from 1961-63 with a singular distinction – they played the first-ever jazz concert at the White House in November, 1962 at the invitation of then First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy. Later discouraged by President’s Kennedy’s assassination, their optimism defeated, the group disbanded. Though the personnel would change slightly, the band featured Winter, trumpeter Dick Whitsell, baritone sax player Les Rout, pianist Warren Bernhardt, bassist Richard Evans and drummer Harold Jones. Bassist Chuck Israels and Cecil McBee along with drummers Ben Riley and Freddie Waits also recorded with the band.

Fifty years later, “Count Me In” is released featuring 2 discs of the Sextet’s recorded music including 14 never released tracks including the historic concert at the White House. “The Sextet was conceived as a kind of little ‘big band,’” says Paul, “and with our instrumentation of three horns and rhythm, it has quite a different sound from that of the Paul Winter Consort, which people have known me for during the last several decades. But on a primary level, it’s all the same lineage: a spirit of celebration, in the democracy of ensemble, aspiring toward a balance between the improvised and the composed.”

The music is reflective of the era – modern jazz from the early 1960’s that’s similar in sound to groups fronted by Gerry Mulligan or Art Farmer. The White House performance may be of most interest and the remastered tape offers a wide, airy soundstage with a lot of open air although the piano can sound improperly miked and distant. It sounds good but takes a second to get used to. However, the playing is where it’s at. Tight arrangements and fleet interplay characterize the show. Solos by Bernhardt and Les Rout are excellent. They swing on originals and three tracks ply crowd pleasing Brazilian rhythms. Disc 2 is a stronger effort with tunes by Tom McIntosh, Jimmy Heath and John Lewis with originals by Bernhardt and bassist Richard Evans, and the sound is just about perfect to better connect with this band. (17 tracks; 65:39 minutes / 15 tracks; 74:49 minutes) http://paulwinter.com/music/count-me-in/

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JAZZ IN SPACE: PAUL WINTER SEXTET, COUNT ME IN

Friday, November 30, 2012

PAUL WINTER SEXTET, COUNT ME IN


Before establishing the Paul Winter Consort, a group that found fame playing jazz with new age tendencies (“Icarus” was a very popular recording in the 70’s), saxophonist Paul Winter led a sextet from 1961-63 with a singular distinction – they played the first-ever jazz concert at the White House in November, 1962 at the invitation of then First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy. Later discouraged by President’s Kennedy’s assassination, their optimism defeated, the group disbanded. Though the personnel would change slightly, the band featured Winter, trumpeter Dick Whitsell, baritone sax player Les Rout, pianist Warren Bernhardt, bassist Richard Evans and drummer Harold Jones. Bassist Chuck Israels and Cecil McBee along with drummers Ben Riley and Freddie Waits also recorded with the band.

Fifty years later, “Count Me In” is released featuring 2 discs of the Sextet’s recorded music including 14 never released tracks including the historic concert at the White House. “The Sextet was conceived as a kind of little ‘big band,’” says Paul, “and with our instrumentation of three horns and rhythm, it has quite a different sound from that of the Paul Winter Consort, which people have known me for during the last several decades. But on a primary level, it’s all the same lineage: a spirit of celebration, in the democracy of ensemble, aspiring toward a balance between the improvised and the composed.”

The music is reflective of the era – modern jazz from the early 1960’s that’s similar in sound to groups fronted by Gerry Mulligan or Art Farmer. The White House performance may be of most interest and the remastered tape offers a wide, airy soundstage with a lot of open air although the piano can sound improperly miked and distant. It sounds good but takes a second to get used to. However, the playing is where it’s at. Tight arrangements and fleet interplay characterize the show. Solos by Bernhardt and Les Rout are excellent. They swing on originals and three tracks ply crowd pleasing Brazilian rhythms. Disc 2 is a stronger effort with tunes by Tom McIntosh, Jimmy Heath and John Lewis with originals by Bernhardt and bassist Richard Evans, and the sound is just about perfect to better connect with this band. (17 tracks; 65:39 minutes / 15 tracks; 74:49 minutes) http://paulwinter.com/music/count-me-in/

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