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Wednesday, August 2, 2023

Jazz Premiere: Washington - Paul Winter


Papa Zimbi

Jazz Premiere: Washington
The Paul Winter Sextet
Produced by John Hammond
Cover Photo: Courtesy of The White House
Cover Art: Culver Pictures
Columbia Records CL 1997

From the back cover: The real wealth of any country is measured not in barrels of oil, fields of wheat nor tons of coal. Not is that mysterious financial page statistic, "car loadings," a proper gauge for it. The real wealth of any country , any people, any civilization is in the strength and imagination of its youth and in the originality and creative inspiration of its art.

For all of the industrial resource and the mechanical and engineering marvels of the United States, and for all of the glory of vision of the America Revolution, it may well turn out that the impact of the U.S.A. – in the positive sense of contribution – will in the end be measured at least as much by the imagination and creative inspiration of its youthful art of jazz.

SO there is an overriding symbolic value in the presentation (and implied official recognition) of that jazz art as practiced by the youthful group of the Paul Winter Sextet at the White House in 1962. For this group, which was not the winner of the jazz polls, whose members were all but unknown in their now land, and whose achievement (so far, at any rate) were in terms of musical ambassadorship to foreign lands, represents the surging inspiration of American youth expressed through the freest form of the international language of music.

The Winger group is an example of the growing involvement with jazz as an art form on the part of the younger college generation in the United States. Its members are all products of the university community and the group itself was formed to participate in a college jazz competition and first brought attention to itself in that arena.

InMay of 1961, the Paul Winter Sextet won the Intercollegiate Jazz Festival competition at Georgetown University, in which over one hundred groups had submitted tape recorded examples of their playing, and Warren Bernhardt, the pianist was boiled as best musician in any group.

Following these tow competitions, the Extent played at the Evansville (Indiana) Festival and the Naugatuck (Michigan) Festival and here Dave Brubeck heard them. Brubeck and two of the judges of the Georgetown Festival, John Hammond and John Barks (Dizzy) Gillespie, recommended the group to the American National Theater and Academy, the organization which selects the talent of the State Department Cultural Exchange tours. ANTA sent along the group's plan for a student jazz group tour to the U.S. State Department representatives in Latin America, and the 27,000 mile tour was set up and launched.

The group took off early in 1962 and spent the next six months in a mad dah throughout Latin America in which 160 concerts were played, untold thousands of people given the opportunity to hear jazz, and immeasurable good will accumulated for the Winter Sextet and the U.S.A.

Back home after their tour, the group became the first jazz unit to play at the White House when, on November 19, 1962, they are presented there by Mrs. Kennedy as part of her series of musical programs by Young People for Young People When Mrs. Kennedy expressed her enjoyment, it was front-page news throughout the country.

As a student of Northwestern, Winter formed a sextet to help finance his way through school. Though drawn back to music through this, he got his degree at Northwestern in English composition. While working he's way through Northwestern, he also played on summer with Ralph Flanagan and another with Les Elgart. Winter doubles on piano and clarinet and is now working on a master's degree in music at the American Conservatory in Chicago.

Warren Bernhardt, twenty-four, is the son of the founder of the Wisconsin Conservatory He has been playing piano since he was eight but heard of jazz he encountered a George Shearing record who he was seventeen, :"Why didn't you ever tell me about jazz?" he asked Gus fathers and the answer us bit recorded, A graduate if the University of Chicago, he has a master's degree in chemistry. He broke a finger once playing baseball and never had it set straight and does a good part of the arranging and composing for the group.

Baritone saxophonist Les Rout, whom Winter calls "one of the outstanding young baritone players in the country," is twenty-six. He has both bachelor's and master's degrees in history from Loyola, is working on his doctorate at the University of Minnesota and has taught history at Wendell Phillips High School in Chicago.

Dick Whitsell, the trumpet player, is twenty-five and a graduate in speech at Northwestern. He has worked as a reporter for the Chicago City News bureau and was once a leg man for magazine writer Dick Gehman. Drummer Harold Jones, twenty-two and a native of Richmond, Indiana, was a percussion major at the American Conservatory in Chicago. He has worked with Claude Thornhill, Donald Byrd and Wes Montgomery among others.

Richard Evans, at twenty-nine is the "old man" of the group. He joined them when the regular bassist couldn't make a record date and then went on the Latin American tour. He's from Birmingham, Alabama, went to high school in Chicago, got a degree in musical education in 1959 from Wilson Junior College and is now working on a master's in composition. He's been with many jazz groups – among them Lionel Hampton, Maynard Ferguson and Marian McPartland. He also writes and arranges for the group.

The numbers on this album were recorded in two session: one in December 1961 and the other on their return from Latin America in 1962. Pony Express is a blues waltz written by Warren Bernhardt; the title is a tribute to the New Frontier, written especially for the White House concert. Casa Camara was written by Richard Evans and is named after an old mansion in which the group stayed during their week in Merida, Yucatan. Paul Winter points out that the number contains two rhythms, a Mexican rhythm and  rhythm called the "merrecumbe" which is from Colombia. Shenandoah, the folk ballad, was arranged by Paul Winter. Richard Evans also composed The Hustling Song and Them Nasty Hurtin' Blues. Papa Zimbi is an adaptation by Warren Bernhardt of a Haitian folk song in 5/4 time. The tune was first heard by the group in Haiti. Zimbi is the divinity of the water and this is the incantation sung to him by the Haitian fishermen. Blue Evil is a composition by Bobby Meyer. Norman Simmons wrote a A Bun Dance and Jimmy Heath The Thumper. The final track is another original by Richard Evans. Count Me In, a tribute to Count Basie. – Ralph J. Gleason

Pony Express
Casa Camara (From "Suite Lation Americano")
The Thumper
The Hustling Song
Them Nasty Hurtin' Blues
Papa Zimbi
A Bun Dance
Blue Evil
Count Me In

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