Gary Brooker – 'A Whiter Shade of Pale' (England)
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.
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