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Ghost Canyon

Title - Everybody Under the Sun: Voices of Solstice, Vol.1
Artist - Paul Winter Consort & Friends

For those not in the know, coming up for nearly 40 years now, the Paul Winter Consort has presented solstice concerts annually at the world’s largest cathedral, St. John the Divine, in New York City.

Celebrating a “one world” concept with musicians from around the globe, Paul brings his ethereal soprano saxophone along with his consort, which has featured oboist Paul McCandless, cellist Eugene Friesen, and guitarist, Oscar Castro-Neves, all noted musicians.

To celebrate this extended period of solstice concerts, the Living Music label has just-released (December 6th) a magnificent 2CD set of highlight vocals (a strictly instrumental set will be issued next year) from 22 guest singers from 13 distinct cultures; all who have shared the stage with the consort over the past 38 years.

Disc 1:
Dmitri Pokrovsky Ensemble – 'Kurski Funk' (Russia)
Susan Osborn – 'In My Life' (US)
Kecia Lewis-Evans – 'The Sparrow' (US)
Pete Seeger – 'How Can I Keep from Singing?' (US)
Luciana Souza – 'Luiza' (Brazil)
Ivan Lins – 'Lua Soberama' (Brazil)
Karan Casey – 'Golden Apples of the Sun' (Ireland)
John Carlos Perea – 'Witchi Tai To' (Apache)
Noirin Ni Riain – 'Fog on the Hill' (Ireland)
Chris Berry – 'Nhemumusassa' (US)
Maria Koleva – 'Bulgarian Song' (Bulgaria)
Arto Tuncboyaciyan – 'Singing to the Mountain' (Armenia)
Lucky Moyo – 'Zebra Song' (Zimbabwe)
Theresa Thomason – 'Sound Over All Waters' (US) Gary Brooker – 'A Whiter Shade of Pale' (England)

Disc 2:
Theresa Thomason & Lucky Moyo – 'You are My Sunshine' (US & Zimbabwe)
Danny Rivera – 'El Belen' (Puerto Rico)
Renato Braz & Dmitry Pokrovsky Ensemble – 'Desenredo' (Brazil & Russia)
Niam Parsons – 'Green Grass, It Grows Bonny' (Ireland)
Abdoulaye Diabate & Paul Winter Consort – 'Prayer, Suite Port Au Prince' (Mali & US)
Fabiana Cozza – 'Sweet Memories' (Brazil)
Arto Tuncboyaciyan – 'Before It’s Too Late' (Armenia)
Yangjiin Lamu – 'Words of Wish Fulfillment' (Tibet)
Susan Osborn – 'Mystery' (US)
Renato Braz & Dmitri Pokrovsky Ensemble – 'Angola' (Brazil & Russia)
Noirin Ni Riain – 'Christmas Day is Come' (Ireland)
Gary Brooker – 'In My Life' (England)
Gordon Bok – 'The Good Wish' (US)
Theresa Thomason – 'The Rain is Over and Gone' (US)
Paul Winter Consort & Dmitri Pokrovsky Ensemble – 'Minuit/Auld Lang Syne' (US & Russia)

In truth, and not knowing what to expect from this package beforehand, I can honestly say that having now listened to both discs through twice, back to back, that it the release contains a quite extraordinary, and highly atmospheric coming together of musical and vocals.

Indeed, all the tracks appearing here on this anthology share a common theme of acceptance, and joyous energy that both soothes the soul, as well as aiming to lighten our daily load of stress; which is always especially welcome in these heady times of ours.

Though we may not understand all the languages being sung, the passion of the vocalists, backed by Winter’s consort, comes through loud and clear.

Artists known to many US listeners include Pete Seeger, Ivan Lins, Luciana Souza, and even Procol Harum’s, Gary Brooker, but for the majority that you may not know, well, sit back, close your eyes and breathe in wondrous, and experienced vocalists from places such as Bulgaria, Armenia, Tibet, and Zimbabwe, amongst others.

Paul's elevated soprano sax on 'Kurski Funk'opens the musical experience and is backed by a supreme rendering of 'How Can I Keep from Singing,' and later on a stirringly rigorous 'Singing to the Mountain.'

Other stand out highlights for me include two versions of 'In My Life,' created here to honor John Lennon, who was murdered ten days before the Winter Solstice concert in 1980, just blocks from the Cathedral.

The first is the beautiful, lush orchestrations from Susan Osborn, and the second, a more deeply measured vocal interpretation from Gary Brooker and my oh my, are they both passionate and exhilarating in equal measures. Another track is the gospel-tinged 'Sound Over All Waters' performed by Theresa Thomason and the quite breathtaking 'The Sparrow' from Kecia Lewis-Evans.

Add to that the cultural coming together of the aforementioned Thomason and Lucky Moyo (from Zimbabwe) on 'You are My Sunshine,' the absorbing track 'Words of Wish Fulfillment' from Yangjiin Lamu (Tibet),' and the Celtic-inspired pairing of 'Golden Apples of the Sun' (Karan Casey) and Niam Parsons on 'Green Grass, It Grows Bonny,' and with Paul's soaring soprano sax providing the backbone for this cinematic soundscape throughout, this new album has easily become one of my Top 5 of 2019.

Official Digital Purchase Link