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Reviewed on 2/6/2018...
"In 1979, in Baja California, Paul Winter led a music-making and whale-watching expedition, with the camp set up in the dunes along Magdalena Bay. On the last night in camp,a sea lion pup appeared in the water just offshore, alone and unafraid of the people who gathered around. She came onto the beach, and Paul and the group sat near her quietly, then played a little music, hoping she would feel at ease. She seemed contented and soon put her head down and fell asleep. Paul stretched out in his sleeping bag beside her, and went to sleep with his nose just inches from hers, smelling her fishy dog-breath, and listening with fascination to her tiny “whale-blow” exhalations....
"This extraordinary encounter affected Paul deeply, and inspired him to explore the realm of pinnipeds and the role of sound in their lives, in the same way he had immersed himself in learning about whales. "The best way to raise awareness about the magic of the vocalizations was to find a vocalization we could interplay with, so the actual voices of the creatures were woven in with the music – in a sense we were collaborating with these creatures.”
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(ignolopi) from SALT LAKE CTY, UT
Reviewed on 7/19/2011...
In my opinion, Callings is the least interesting of Winter's music. I recommend instead Celtic Solstice, Common Ground, Earthbeat, and Canyon.
A Paul Winter "Essential Recording"
Bob Zeidler | Charlton, MA United States | 02/26/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Paul Winter, in a commentary that can be found at his Living Music website, recalled his first visit to the Cathedral of St. John the Divine in New York, in 1974, some six years before this landmark recording was made. It was for the funeral of Duke Ellington, and he writes:
"As we were leaving, recordings of Ellington came through the sound system, and I can still hear the velvet, liquid tone of Johnny Hodges' sax soaring way up in the vault of the Cathedral. I had then no clue that several years later I myself would have the opportunity to play in the Cathedral..."
This album, "Callings," his first recording on his own Living Music label, might be said to have been "informed" by that Johnny Hodges experience, a guess on my part, but not an unreasonable one. What the album did do was to set out a new course for his Consort, and introduced a fresh-sounding instrumental duo, with Winter on soprano sax and Paul Halley on the Cathedral organ
Ever the one to experiment with instrumental combinations and timbres, Winter has often found a way to pair his soprano sax off with other reeds and woodwinds, frequently with them playing in his own register. The unquestioned acme of the album is Blues' Cathedral, imaginatively scored for soprano sax, English horn, organ and a pair of contrabass sarrusophones(!!!). Words are incapable of doing justice to musical spell-weaving of such blinding originality, unearthly beauty and bluesy expression. The expression "cathedral blues" seems to fit the style so well that it is almost as if the Blues' Cathedral track ordains it to be so.
Another highlight is Sea Joy, scored equally imaginatively for soprano sax, oboe, cello, guitar, steel drums and percussion. Fortunately for the audiophiles among us, Callings was Winter's first digitally-recorded and mastered album. It needed to be, to faithfully capture the steel-drums/timpani duo that makes up the sonic joy in Sea Joy. Audiophiles rejoice: this is truly an aerobic workout for your sound systems!
But "Callings" is not just about a track or two. It tells, in music, a story of another initial journey, a first story of nature that would find later expression in his "Canyon," "Whales Alive," "Earth: Voices of a Planet" and "Prayer for the Wild Things" albums, comprising a set that could be said to be Winter's central canon. And it is just a short trip from Blues' Cathedral the composition to cathedral blues the style. The new sound of cathedral blues in "Callings" would find repeated later expression, as early as in "Missa Gaia" and "Sun Singer," following on the heels of "Callings," and as recently as in two of his latest albums, "Celtic Solstice" and "Journey with the Sun."
In summary, an absolutely essential album for the Paul Winter fan, regardless of whether the interest is musical or historic. But, then, if you are a Paul Winter fan, "Callings" will already be in your collection. So these words are really directed at the musical explorers among you browsing this review. Perhaps these words will help to lead you to "Callings" and to other Paul Winter albums, beginning with the few classics noted above.
Get the album. Then turn off the lights, and anything that adds to the background noise level, close your eyes, and let it wash over you. It will work its magic; I just know that it will.
An old favorite
nfornora | Chula Vista, Ca United States | 01/27/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I still have the original two record LP album. I no longer have a record player, but I refuse to give up the records! This album is a wonderful fusion of actual recordings of sea animals woven into the music. Very relaxing but also upbeat."