Monday, December 12, 2011

Paul Winter Consort: Icarus

Suffering from a terrible winter cold, I skipped working on the blog yesterday. Not feeling much better, I thought I would at least provide one of my favorite recordings from the 1970s: “Icarus” by the Paul Winter Consort. The Consort defied definition in the 1970s being mostly found within the jazz bins of record stores. Today, it would be called “world music.”

Live Version from 1970

“Icarus” features Ralph Towner on guitar, Paul Winter on soprano sax, Paul McCandless on double reeds, Glen Moore on bass, David Darling on ‘cello, and Colin Walcott on percussion.

Although composed by a guitarist, the song’s finest points are the ‘cello and the reeds. What a great instrumental and perfect for a Mélange Monday.

Studio Version from 1972

In 1972, the band recorded a studio version of what would be one of their signature tunes with the same personnel with the exception of Herb Buscher on bass.

“Icarus,” written by guitarist Ralph Towner, is the title cut of the album of same name. Like the album “Road,” “Icarus” opens the LP.

Ralph Towner’s Solo Version

Since I was a fan of the music of the ECM record label out of Germany, I was constantly buying product from this label for my jazz show in the late 70s. Ralph Towner’s solo recording was my introduction to “Icarus.” Knowledge of the Paul Winter Consort came at the hands of my friend Jon Weiner who plays ‘cello.

From his 1974 release “Diary,” Towner plays all of the instruments and piano becomes the lead instrument of choice replacing the ‘cello and the reeds of the Paul Winter Consort versions. It is nice – and this morning was the first time I’ve listened to this version since the 70s. I forgot how good it was.

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