Search - Paul Winter, Paul Halley, Leonard Nimoy :: Whales Alive

Whales Alive
Paul Winter, Paul Halley, Leonard Nimoy
Whales Alive
Genres: World Music, Jazz, New Age, Pop
  •  Track Listings (9) - Disc #1


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CD Details

All Artists: Paul Winter, Paul Halley, Leonard Nimoy
Title: Whales Alive
Members Wishing: 0
Total Copies: 0
Label: Living Music
Release Date: 6/28/1991
Genres: World Music, Jazz, New Age, Pop
Styles: Jazz Fusion, Meditation
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaCD Credits: 1
UPC: 010488001321

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CD Reviews

Paul Winter's most imaginative work.
Bob Zeidler | Charlton, MA United States | 08/30/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)

"Paul Winter is that rarity among musicians, one who can successfully reinvent himself repeatedly, not so much as a concession to changing tastes among listeners as it is his fascination with how - and by whom (and for that matter, by what) - music is made. With a 40-year body of work thus far, the only "constant" over these four decades has been the sound of his saxophone (and even there, his "hard bop" alto of his early post-college years is quite different from his soprano sax work over most of his career).

A little over two decades ago, Winter founded his own record label (Living Music) so that he could pursue his musical interests without concern for whether the label itself would influence his artistic direction. Excepting a number of guest appearances on the albums of musical friends, all of his releases since 1980 have been on the Living Music label, and all of them reflect and showcase his artistic interests.

Preeminent among these releases (now numbering nearly 40 titles) is a small, but central, series of "environmental" albums that evoke his thoughts on the relationships between music and the earth and nature. Among these, if "Callings" (1980) was his groundbreaking first album, "Canyon" (1985) his most evocative, "Earth: Voices of a Planet" (1990) his widest-ranging (in geographic terms), "Prayer for the Wild Things" (1994) his crowning artistic achievement, and "Canyon Lullaby" (1997) his most personal, I think it accurate to say that this album, "Whales Alive" (1987), is his most imaginative.

The album is the collaborative effort of four people (three in addition to Winter), each uniquely qualified for the contributions he makes. Dr. Roger Payne, famous for his whale tapings ("Songs of the Humpback Whale"), first interested Winter in "the musics of cetaceans." Payne also inspired Leonard Nimoy, who provides the dramatic readings here (perfectly so, I hasten to add), in his screenplay and direction for "Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home" (which in turn provided inspiration to Winter for the wonderfully moving and affirmative final track on the album). And Paul Halley, long-time Winter collaborator, provides the perfect instrumental underpinnings seated at his organ console bench at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine.

The album juxtaposes readings by Nimoy of the prose and poetry of Herman Melville, D. H. Lawrence, Gary Snyder, Payne and others with whale songs and the instrumental work of Winter and Halley and their session musicians. The integration of these three seemingly distinct entities is a marvel that few can pull off at all, and none as well as Winter. The majestic opening track ("Whales Weep Not") immediately lets us know that this is no ordinary "spoken word" album. And it gets better, with the utterly imaginative "Concerto for Whale and Organ," the bluesy "Humphrey's Blues" and the exciting "Queequeg and I" (with Ted Moore providing thrilling percussion support to Winter's sax).

There are instances when words cannot suffice, but we try anyway. In saying that "The Voyage Home" is a revelation in its simple, noble majesty and uplifting spirituality, I know that I fail utterly in attempting to capture its essence. The prologue to this final track, narrated by Nimoy to words written by Payne, linger as an aural memory much as the music itself does; the final six words of Dr. Payne's, prior to the start of the music, truly say it all. Winter has a way of providing "album closers" that are unforgettable, and "The Voyage Home" is among his very finest of all.

I like to think of this series of "environmental music" albums as "canonical Winter": those of his works which are absolutely timeless in terms of their appeal. And, among these, "Whales Alive" is at the same time both the most imaginative and the most stirring of all.

Bob Zeidler"
Very Relaxing CD
Zachary | Kentucky | 08/11/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)

"Very relaxing music accompanied by recorded whale songs. Leonard Nimoy also reads poetry. Yes that's Nimoy as in Mr. Spock. His readings take nothing away from the beauty of this compilation. I searched over a year for this CD after hearing it featured on a local new age program....If you like New Age, you'll love this."