The Paul Winter Sextet: Count Me In 1962 & 1963

[11 February 2013]

By Brent Faulkner

Count Me In 1962 & 1963 arrives from jazz collective the Paul Winter Sextet via Living Music. Frontman Paul Winter is a saxophonist, bred from the dance-band and big-band traditions. The sextet incorporated jazz standards, originals and Latin-jazz charts. Over the course of the nearly two and a half hour anthology, the instrumentation of the sextet remains the same for the most part: alto saxophone, baritone saxophone, trumpet and rhythm section.

The anthology is divided into two discs, respectively representing the years 1962 and 1963. On disc one (1962), there are two distinct segments: studio recordings and the Sextet’s White House concert (November 19, 1962). On the second disc (1963), there are an additional two segments: live recordings from the Universities of Kansas City and Colorado, and selections from the album Jazz Meets the Folk Song.

The personnel for the first disc are Paul Winter (alto sax), Dick Whitsell (trumpet), Les Rout (baritone sax), Warren Bernhardt (piano), Richard Evans (bass), and Harold Jones (drums). The studio segment in particular delivers some exceptional tracks. Opener “A Bun Dance” is a strong opener, sporting a ‘tongue-in-cheek’ sound and solid solos from Rout, Whitsell and Winter. “Papa Zimbi”, excerpted from pianist Warren Bernhardt’s “Suite Port au Prince”, is written in 5/8 time. Adapting a Haitian folk song, “Papa Zimbi” shows the first tastes of the Sextet’s love for multicultural music. “Casa Camara”, penned by Richard Evans, similarly highlights ethnic music, utilizing Mexican and Colombian rhythms.

Another standout, “Them Nasty Hurtin’ Blues”, places the sextet firmly in the hard-bop idiom. Winter’s alto saxophone playing is bluesy and biting while Bernhardt’s piano-playing is gospel-infused. “Routeousness”, composed by and featuring Les Rout, is a crowd-pleaser, with Rout showing off immense agility on the largest horn of the group. The sextet’s tribute to Count Basie, “Count Me In”, composed by Evans, concludes the segment.

The White House Concert segment features notable highlights including opener “Bells and Horns” (composed by Milt Jackson), which gets the adrenaline pumping. “Pony Express”, written in honor of a young Caroline Kennedy and her pony Macaroni, is bluesy, rhythmic, and angular; Warren Bernhardt’s piano comping and voicing shine through. On “Toccata”, composed by Lalo Schifrin (Dizzy Gillespie Sextet), drummer Harold Jones provides excellent rhythmic intensity. “Casa Camara” and “Count Me In” are reprised, while Latin-jazz numbers “Saudade de Bahia (Longing for Bahia)” and “Maria Ninguem” are pleasant, though not necessarily revolutionary.

Personnel changes occur on the second disc with Jay Cameron (baritone sax), Chuck Israels (bass), and Ben Riley (drums). “Ally” and “With Malice Towards None” are two notable live cuts composed by trombonist Tom McIntosh. “Ally”, dedicated to McIntosh’s wife, begins as a ballad, contrasts to an uptempo cut, then reverts back to piano-led balladry. “With Malice Toward None” is titled after Abraham Lincoln’s second inaugural speech. Winter plays soprano saxophone for the first time on this particular recording. Conveying the meaningfulness behind its title, “With Malice Toward None” is stunning.

“All Members” comes courtesy of Jimmy Heath, its most notable moment being the interplay between trumpet, alto and baritone saxes. “Suite Port au Prince”, excerpted previously (“Papa Zimbi”), appears in its entirety after 49 years in the vault. At nearly 10 minutes, the three-part suite could be called ‘epic’. A couple of other Latin-jazz/Latin-influenced numbers appear on the live segment, as well as charts by pianist John Lewis (“New York 19”), Gil Mellé (“The Sheriff”) and Jimmy Heath (“The Thumper”). An ultra-energized take of “Count Me In” closes.

The final segment, with tracks from Jazz Meets the Folk Song, features Cecil McBee on bass and Freddie Watts on drums. “Repeat” finds Winter honing in on soprano sax once more while the traditional “Lass from the Low Countrie” (arranged by Winter) features Gene Bertonicini on guitar and Jeremy Steig on flute. Eighteenth century traditional English cut “Down by the Greenwood Side” receives a quick tempo in Winter’s arrangement, highlighted by Bernhardt’s agile piano solo. The closing cut is the crowning achievement—Cecil McBee’s touching arrangement of civil rights anthem “We Shall Over Come”. Beautifully conceived, the horn trills, pianistic ideas, and powerful trumpet solo distinguish it.

Overall, Count Me In 1962 & 1963 provides ample material from the Paul Winter Sextet in top-notch form. The musicianship exhibited by the group is well preserved on this anthology, which is a welcome, worthwhile addition to any jazz music collection.

Published at: http://www.popmatters.com/pm/review/167632-the-paul-winter-sextet-count-me-in-1962-1963/