Recording of July 1982: Callings

Paul Winter: Callings
The Paul Winter Consort: Paul Winter, soprano sax, E-flat contrabass sarrusophone, conch shell; Nancy Rumbel, oboe, English horn, C contrabass sarrusophone, double ocarina; Eugene Friesen, cello; Jim Scott, classical and 12-string guitars; Ted Moore, timpani, surdos, berimbau, caixixi, pao de chuva, ganza, gongs, cymbals, triangles, handbells, whistles; Paul Halley, pipe organ, harpsichord, piano.
Recorded with the 3M Digital System in the Cathedral of St. John the Divine, New York City. Paul Winter, prod., Dixon Van Winkle, Chris Brown, engs. Additional recording by Richard Blakin and Mickey Houlihan. CD mastered by Clete Baker.
Living Music Records LMR-1 (LP). DAA. Living Music Records LD0001 (10488 00012-6) (CD). DAD. TT: 49:42.

It is hard for me to be objective about a record such as this. My very being responds to it, not only to the music but to the ideas and feelings behind it. Fortunately for me, this happens to be an excellent recording, with some extraordinary low end on it, so I need not compromise either my critical faculties or my sentiments.

For those of you who may not be familiar with Paul Winter's earlier recording, Common Ground, Mr. Winter has become deeply involved with animals. It began when he started playing his saxophone to wolves, who responded to his music, at times echoing the sounds. He developed this into Common Ground, which was dedicated to the lords of the animal kingdom: whale, wolf, and eagle. Callings is the first album in a projected trilogy, devoted to these three powerful creatures. Each album will be dedicated to the ruler of one of the three enviroments: air, sea, and earth.

Callings was inspired by a sea lion pup who joined Mr. Winter and some friends when they were camping im Baja California and shared an evening with them. They called her Silkie. Although the album is primarily devoted to mammals of the sea—whales, dolphins, walruses and seals—it also includes sounds of wolves and polar bears.

The animal sounds are incorporated into the musical context, where they seem as natural as any instrument in the scoring. The music itself can be awesome, as in "Sea Storm" (which includes a clap of thunder that seemed almost a divine embellishment of the music) and "Blues Cathedral," which contains some very deep sounds—the voices of Blue Whales raised in frequency by two and four times. Despite this, they are still pitched so low as to be below the bottom range of many good speaker systems.

The music can also be very gentle, loving and wistful, as in "Dance of The Silkies," as well as lyrical as in "Seal Eyes" and "Sea Joy", the latter a gentle dance tune. The varying combinations of sax, oboe, English horn, cello, harp and several percussion instruments too numerous to list, afford a wide variety of moods and textures.

This record may not be everyone's cup of tea, but for those who have an affinity for animals, and those who have enjoyed Paul Winter's earlier records, it will prove a delight.

The recording itself is well made and mixed. It was digitally mastered on the 3M System, about which the least I can say is that it doesn't sound digital. All in all, this is a most amazing recording and one which will interest as well as delight many record collectors.—Margaret Graham