Light of the Sun
If Portlandia ever did a sketch about a super-earnest, tree hugging, save the whales jazz musician, it would have to be a
homage to Paul Winter. Winter was one of the pioneers of bringing the sounds of the non-western world into his music. He was one of the first musicians to incorporate the sounds of wildlife into his recordings. Paul famously played with whale calls, wolf howls and bird song. Winter’s music with the Paul Winter Consort was New Age before there was New Age. (The Consort also spun off the world music-oriented band, Oregon).
In my cynical moments, I consider Paul Winter’s music to be too pretty, too nice, too granola and patchouli. But there are times when a calm, meditative voice is what’s needed. As 2020 ground to a close in a cloud of chaos, the arrival of Light of the Sun was a welcome tonic. The sound of Paul’s soprano saxophone singing lyrically over minimalist backing is the sort of thing made for meditation and yoga studios. Songs with titles like “My Father’s Smile,” “Sweet Home,” and “Inner Peace” are reassuring. Winter incorporates animal voices in “Hymn” and “The Well Tempered Wood Thrush.” To those in tune with Paul’s vibe, this will be another chance to commune with Gaia. For a stressed out guy who’s been watching too much cable news, Light of the Sun is like the friendly stranger who sees someone having an panic attack and stays with them, calmly talking about nothing much at all until the crisis passes.