Morning Sun: Adventures with Oboe

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Morning Sun track list

All the Mornings Bring
Elves’ Chasm
Bright Angel
Whooper Dance
On the Steppes of Central Asia
Witchi Tai To
Sunset on the Great Sand Dunes
Um Abraco (A Big Hug)
Common Ground
The Last Train
Fantasia in G
Morning Sun

For all ages
Label: Living Music
SRP: $15
Run time: 66 minutes

Morning Sun: Adventures with Oboe

Paul McCandless with the Paul Winter Consort,

A Retrospective Celebrating 45 Years of Genre-Bending Iconic Mastery

“Paul McCandless has taken his instrument to places no oboist has gone before … I am in awe of his playing. He soars, like the migrating raptors. His playing is both adventurous and lyrical, two of the qualities I value most in jazz. He sets a very high bar.” – Paul Winter

Morning Sun is an anthology of double-reed master Paul McCandless’ superb recordings with the 7-time GRAMMY®-winning Paul Winter Consort over the past 45 years, serving as both an historical retrospective and a tribute to McCandless’ legendary musicianship and creativity.

Paul McCandless occupied the oboe and English horn chair of the Paul Winter Consort from 1968 to 1972. He went on to become a founding member of the acclaimed quartet Oregon, with whom he has played for the past 40 years. He has also performed with Wynton Marsalis, Pat Metheny, Steve Reich, the String Cheese Incident, and the Tchaikovsky Symphony Orchestra of Moscow, among many other luminaries. His collaboration with Béla Fleck resulted in their winning the 1996 Grammy for Best Pop Instrumental. As a jazz musician, McCandless has established himself internationally as the pre-eminent voice of oboe and English horn improvisation. As a classical artist, he has performed with numerous symphony and chamber music ensembles in the U.S. and abroad.

Despite his intense calendar of commitments, Paul McCandless has always reserved time to continue performing and recording with the Paul Winter Consort. Highlights include the Consort’s Common Ground album in 1977, their recording expeditions in the Grand Canyon for the album Canyon in 1985 and in the Sangre de Cristo Mountains of Colorado for the Crestone album in 2006. Scenic international adventures with the Consort have included sojourns in the Shigaraki

Paul Winter, Chris Berry, and Paul McCandless, Laikipia, 2006; photo by Nell Freeman

Mountains of Japan for the 2008 album Miho: Journey to the Mountain and in the Rift Valley of Kenya for the upcoming Flyways album.

In the manner of a concert performance, the music on Morning Sun proceeds according to a natural flow, beginning with “All the Mornings Bring” from the Paul Winter Consort’s groundbreaking 1971 album, Icarus, where the unique brand of Paul McCandless’ intense oboe lyricism transitions into tour de force virtuosity as he takes the listener on an improvisational ride that’s like cascading over a Rocky Mountain waterfall. With his solo, “Elves’ Chasm,” from the album Canyon, which was actually recorded in the Grand Canyon, McCandless guides his oboe through thoughtful extemporaneous ruminations to the natural accompaniment of gently flowing water and a latticework of delicate birdsong. Also from the album Canyon but recorded in New York’s Cathedral of St. John the Divine, “Bright Angel” announces a change of texture as the rippling figures of Paul Halley’s mellow keyboarding combine with lyrical sighs from Eugene Friesen’s cello to offer a continuum of rhythmic energy over which wind players Paul McCandless and Paul Winter execute their flights of fancy. “Whooper Dance,” from Crestone, postulates a dialogue of man and nature between the poetic lyricism of whooping crane calls and the antique sonorities of McCandless’ oboe. McCandless turns to the deeper soundings of the English horn in “On the Steppes of Central Asia,” an essay on Alexander Borodin’s haunting melody, which paints a scene of majestic immensity originally included on Miho: Journey to the Mountain.

Other highlights include “Witchi Tai To,” from Crestone, in which Native American singer John-Carlos Perea offers a Comanche song of healing that becomes the basis for rhapsodic oboe improvisation by McCandless; “Um Abraço,” from the Consort’s 1970 live album, Road, which marked McCandless’ first commercial recording on oboe; and a live recording of J.S. Bach’s Fantasia in G that gives McCandless the chance to improvise a “wild and woolly” oboe cadenza.

Noteworthy musical moments also include “Anabela,” from the 2016 album Saudade by Brazilian singer Renato Braz, on which Paul McCandless demonstrates his consummate collaborative artistry, and the exuberant “Common Ground” from the album by that name, which is given a community sing treatment embellished by McCandless’ ear-popping virtuosity. In “Sunderland,” from the 2010 album Earth Music. McCandless transforms this original tune by jazz master Jeff Holmes into a dissertation on just about everything that can be done on the English horn, and the entire Paul Winter Consort plays with rhythmic security and a oneness of ensemble spirit that is indicative of only the world’s most exalted chamber ensembles.

Morning Sun concludes with its title track, the most pensive oboe statement on the album, which also served as a wrap-up for Miho: Journey to the Mountain. Notes Paul Winter, “In the tranquility of ‘Morning Sun,’ with the luminescence of Paul McCandless’ oboe, the living polyphony of the Consort’s three ‘horns’ over Don Grusin’s magic carpet of chord progressions, and the final high tritone ‘gleam of the light’ from the keyboard, I hear the promise – of a new day, of a world of beauty, and peace.”

 Morning Sun: Adventures with Oboe – Paul McCandless with the Paul Winter Consort, A Retrospective is dedicated to McCandless’ fellow oboist, the late Sir George Martin, the famed producer of albums by the Beatles, as well as the Paul Winter Consort’s album, Icarus. In his autobiography, Playback, Martin gave the Consort the accolade of a lifetime, referring to Icarus as “the finest record I have ever made.”

Accompanying the album is a 32-page booklet containing an engaging chronicle by Paul Winter that presents a first-person account of the Paul Winter Consort’s history and the memorable times Winter has shared with Paul McCandless through the years, as well as notes on each track and selected photos. 

Notes Paul Winter, “With this anthology, I set out to gather a treasury of Paul McCandless’ masterful playing and found that it also became, quite unintentionally, a retrospective of the Consort – the most extensive yet done. Listening through the entire album, I am thrilled with every note.”