Composer and soprano saxophonist Paul Winter is a pivotal and influential figure in what is sometimes called "world chamber music," a sophisticated form of instrumental improvisation that synthesizes the music of Africa, Asia, and Latin America with jazz, classical, and ambient elements. With his group the Paul Winter Consort, and a variety of other musicians, Winter has forged a unique, genre-hopping style. The two-disc GREATEST HITS acts as a retrospective for Winter, bringing the range and depth of his experiments into impressive focus.
The set spans from 1972 to 1998, and touches on sambas, Indian raga, Celtic airs, Western classical, and soothingly atmospheric adult contemporary, among other styles. The range of instruments--pipe organ, bansuri, cello, guitar, oboe, tanpura, and French horn, just to name a few--gives some indication of the mix-and-match aesthetic here, yet Winter and his colleagues weave the various strains together beautifully (thanks in large part to Winter's fine writing and arrangements). The first disc contains four new, previously unreleased tracks, while the second disc features music by artists on Winter's Living Music label. Additionally, the second CD has enhanced features that include a pictoral and musical history of Winter's career. This is an excellent place to begin exploring Winter's extensive, eclectic catalogue.