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Altoona grad and Grammy winner Paul Winter releases new album

Seven-time Grammy Award Winner Paul Winter has released a new album to showcase his signature sax voice in a “testament” to his beloved soprano saxophone.

“Light of the Sun” is the first album he has made in which he is the featured soloist. It’s his most “personal musical offering in his 60-year recording career,” he said in a news release.

“Since I organized my first little band in Altoona at age 12, I have always worn two musical hats: as player and bandleader,” Winter said. “But my love for playing sax has most often been overshadowed by my fascination with bands and ensembles of all kinds.”

With his early jazz sextet and with the Paul Winter Consort, his forum since 1968, Winter has usually been content to play as a member of the ensemble. The premise of his bands has always been that of a musical democracy: everybody is featured, but the overall ensemble sound is primary. However, he has long harbored the dream of creating an entire album featuring his beloved soprano sax.

“This year, having recently turned 80, I figured it was as good a time as any to do it,” Winter says.

Winter knew early on that he wanted this album to be a celebration of light. The album is structured as a journey with the Sun through the morning, afternoon, evening, and night of a day, and also through the seasons of the year. His intention, he said, is “to embrace the many meanings we attribute to light: light as spirit, love, consciousness, human kindness, serenity, heart, exaltation, fire, the light that is integral to beauty, and the smile that reflects the sunshine in our heart.”

“Music is the common medium that can embody both the spiritual and physical aspects of light,” he said.

The 15 pieces of the album include a series of new compositions, along with unique reinterpretations of iconic chestnuts from Winter’s odyssey. Included is a trilogy of pieces featuring voices from what he calls “the greater symphony of the Earth,” saluting our three realms of ocean (Dolphin), air (Wood Thrush) and land (Wolf).

“I have had the great privilege of recording in my three favorite sonic temples on the planet: the ‘Kiva’ of the Miho Museum; the Cathedral of St. John the Divine in New York, where the Consort and I have been artists-in-residence since 1980; and the Grand Canyon, which has been a place of pilgrimage for me for many years,” he explained. “These are places where I feel my horn realizes its true voice, acoustic spaces where its spirit-song comes alive.”

“Light of the Sun is my testament as a sax player,” said Winter. “And in saying this, I don’t mean to imply it is my last. Actually, I’m intending it to be my first. When you arrive at 80, you need to be ready for something new.”

Masterful keyboardists accompany Winter’s saxophone, including Paul Halley on piano and the pipe organ of New York’s Cathedral of St. John the Divine, and pianists Jeff Holmes, Denny Zeitlin, and Don Grusin. Brazilian guitarist Oscar Castro-Neves plays on three tracks, and cellist Eugene Friesen on two.

Light of the Sun is available from www.paulwinter.com, Spotify, Amazon, Apple Music, iTunes, Deezer, Tidal and Bandcamp. The cost of a digital download is $8.99 and a CD is $15.

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