Search - Paul Winter :: Common Ground

Common Ground
Paul Winter
Common Ground
Genres: World Music, Jazz, New Age, Pop
  •  Track Listings (12) - Disc #1

For the past 30 years, Paul Winter has been the foremost exponent of integrating sounds from nature into environmental-themed music to espouse an optimistic kinship with Planet Earth's myriad creatures. Fusing animal calli...  more »


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All Artists: Paul Winter
Title: Common Ground
Members Wishing: 0
Total Copies: 0
Label: A&M
Original Release Date: 1/1/1978
Re-Release Date: 10/20/1989
Genres: World Music, Jazz, New Age, Pop
Styles: Jazz Fusion, Meditation
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaCD Credits: 1
UPC: 075021334427

Synopsis essential recording
For the past 30 years, Paul Winter has been the foremost exponent of integrating sounds from nature into environmental-themed music to espouse an optimistic kinship with Planet Earth's myriad creatures. Fusing animal callings with jazz, orchestral, and choral arrangements, folk, and world music, Common Ground is a cohesive concept album with more than its share of beautiful music. Winter's mimicry and accompaniment of wolf and whale on soprano sax is eloquent, though the human vocal passages sometimes verge on a sanctimonious folkiness. His "best of" collection, Wolf Eyes (which features various versions of about half of Common Ground's selections), is a more consistent introduction to Winter's distinctive music. --Richard Price

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Jes G. (jesgear) from DAVENPORT, IA
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CD Reviews

Ave Maris, Ave Om
Ben C-F | Minneapolis, MN United States | 12/19/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)

"For nearly forty years now, Paul Winter has carved a brilliant career from melding music of nature, of culture, of life, blending the various forces together to create a whole so unique and distinct, and creating a soundtrack for Unitarian Universalists around the world in the process. His strong connection to wildlife, his affinity for the earth's creatures and the music they make, is integral to his music, as is his uncanny ability to bring together so many different styles and genres, which at its most brilliant is just breathtaking, and which at its lesser moments, is brilliant just the same. COMMON GROUND is perhaps the greatest fusion of all things Paul Winter, born of a remarkable organic experience in the Summer of 1978, when he gathered several friends and musicians to his summer home and formed "the Village," out of which this album was created. The record is full of African and Brazilian rhythms, jazz stylings of oboist Paul McCandless and drummer Steve Gadd, and a trilogy of creatures-- wolf, whale, and eagle-- this is the true music of Earth.I first heard this album when I was very, very young, probably two or three years old (I'm 21 now). At various times, the album simply returns to my life, and I'm constantly reawakened to its beauty. It opens with "Ancient Voices," a teriffic song that gradually shifts from African mbira dzavadzimu (sort of an enlargened African marimba) to a mid-tempo shuffle. And the lyrics gently introduce the entire theme of the album ("Ancient voices sing forever, guide me on my way. . . Turning spinning circle ending, Light begins the day"). "Eagle" features McCandless's soaring, sweeping oboe runs echoing the flight and call of an African Fish-Eagle. McCandless is an amazing oboist, as this piece and "Common Ground" highlight-- rare is the occasion when you can say "jazz oboist," but he pulls it off quite nicely. The more Brazilian take on Ralph Towner's "Icarus" (a Winter Consort stable) is quite lovely; this is my particular favorite arrangement, slightly ahead of the original. "The Promise Of A Fisherman (Iemanja)" is teriffic, a slow, majestic chant to the Candomble goddess set against frantic, rhythmic percussion; a very nice juxtaposition. And the song is a brilliant segue into the album's centerpiece, the wondrous "Ocean Dream." This is my favorite song on the album, an ode to the mysterious, beautiful creature, the whale (specifically, the humpback whale, whose call is heard throughout the song). What is so amazing about this song is, the chords and melody are based around the whalesongs, they're singing to the whales, and almost vice versa. The lyrics echo the childlike fascination and wonder Winter seems to hold for these creatures-- "Ocean child, come now home, holy wonder, wholly one; Ancient song, call me home, ave maris, ave om." And the song ends with Winter's soprano sax echoing the whale's calls. Beautiful. "Trio" represents the human side of the whale/eagle/wolf trio, later echoed on the final song, "Trilogy." It's a very subtle conclusion to the first side, and a nice short afterthought following "Ocean Dream."Side Two opens with the rousing "Common Ground," an uplifting, spiritual piece with some teriffic solos and a thunderous Steve Gadd rhythm. Once again, the oboe solo in the middle of the song is absolutely breathtaking. Calming down a little bit, the next piece is the ethereal, soul-clensing "Lay Down Your Burden." Susan Osborne's voice is so emotional, and the song is so captivating, it draws you in and gently releases you at the song's conclusion. The best line, in my opinion, is "Sing with the choirs that surround you, and dance to the music in your soul; Look into the eyes that really see you; Place all that you have into that bowl." It's a call to one's soul, to be willing to sacrifice all and go with your own spirit. I love that idea. "Wolf Eyes" is a rather sad piece, very intriguing since generally, in pop culture, wolves are regarded as rather fierce, canniving creatures (this was before "Never Cry Wolf" and the incessant early-90's Disney G-rated Alaskan wildlife family adventures of course); here, the wolf is almost pitied, as the poem in the sleeve notes seems to emphasize ("The wolf had amber eyes/That stared out/The back of a station wagon"). And then, the most spine-tingling moment of the album, "Duet," a music duet between wolf and saxophone recorded live in the Village. It's just incredible (and additionally, showcases Winter's remarkable sense of pitch!). A reprise of "Minuit (Midnight)," first heard on the ICARUS album, is almost better, primarily for the addition of Osborne's "Midnight has come, I hear music, and I keep on singing" chant featured at the end of the piece. The album ends with Trilogy, blending the three animal voices together (remarkably, they were all in the same key), with but one organ note. An amazing ending to an amazing album.This is my favorite Paul Winter album. Others worth hearing, especially if you enjoy this release (and I surely hope you do), include ICARUS, CANYON, and EARTH: VOICES OF A PLANET. All of his works either expand or follow the themes presented on this album, but in my opinion, it was with COMMON GROUND that Winter fused them best. A Must Own."
Music and nature at its best...
H. Pengson | Los Angeles, CA | 12/30/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)

"i've never met nor seen a concert of mr paul winter but i felt that he wrote these songs and music with all his heart..never in my life i've heard man and wildlife play not only such beautiful music but could really truly co-exist..not only a lesson for us but appreciation of "life on earth" as a whole..."