“After 40 years of playing only the soprano saxophone, at this year’s Winter Solstice Celebration, I’ll also be playing an alto saxophone. It’s challenging to go back and try and get the edgy sound I used to have on alto. But I love playing them both. The soprano will be featured in pieces with the Paul Winter Consort, and the alto in pieces with the Paul Winter Sextet.
“From when I was eight through my time with the Sextet, my main instrument was alto sax. During the last year of the Sextet, in 1963, I got a soprano – I just was interested in it and liked the sound – and played that on some tracks on the last two Sextet albums. Then eventually, as the Consort emerged in the late 1960s, I came to favor the soprano. This was probably because it projected more than the alto, at least the way I played it, and especially outdoors – I was doing more outdoor playing then.
“When I came to find the complexity of playing two different horns was too much, I decided to focus on one – soprano – and see if I could find the voice I wanted, which was a cross between a French horn and the human voice.
“After the bebop years, when the Sextet ended in 1964, I went to Brazil and immersed myself in that music for the better part of a year. For the first time I was involved with quiet music as well as loud. Almost everything the Sextet had done was loud. I had had a brash bebop sound appropriate for the band, but now that I was involved with Brazilian music – I wanted to change the way I was playing to get a more vocal sound.”