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Home on the Range

from Crestone by Paul Winter

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    Grammy® Award-winning CRESTONE celebrates Colorado’s San Luis Valley, featuring Apache musician John-Carlos Perea, who sings in the Northern Plains Indian tradition; the voices of Mountain Bluebird, Red-winged Blackbird, Whooping Crane, Meadowlark, Sandhill Cranes, Coyotes, and Buffalo; and the Consort, including Paul Winter on soprano sax, Paul McCandless, oboe and bass clarinet; Eugene Friesen, cello; Glen Velez, percussion, Koji Nakamura, Japanese taiko drum.

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For millennia, millions of Buffalo ranged across the plains and prairies of North America. During at least 10,000 years they were hunted by the Indians, but were quickly wiped out by Euro-Americans. Some forty million were killed in a frenzy of slaughter between 1830and 1889, until only 542 remained. By exterminating the Buffalo, the white man cleared the way for the railroad and westward expansion, and in turn, deprived the Indians of their way of life. In the early 1900s, the last Buffalo were kept in captivity to save the species from extinction. Twelve hundred Buffalo live now on the Nature Conservancy’s Medano-Zapata Ranch, adjacent to the Great Sand Dunes in the San Luis Valley. One of our “Grail quests” in this project was to make great recordings of Buffalo, which to our knowledge no one had yet done. After many attempts, Peter May and Matthew Crowley succeeded in capturing what may be the most intimate Buffalo recordings ever made.

Peter May: “We found the Buffalo, in remote parts of the Ranch, on several occasions, but weren’t able to get close enough to record. One evening I decided to play my trumpet for them. Three of them were very attentive, and we were able to drive our pick-up, without headlights, within twenty feet of them. We quietly set up the mics and recording machine, and listened in the dark. Gradually the Buffalo began to come around us, until we were surrounded by perhaps 200 of them, making gentle grunts and chuffing sounds. I felt very safe among them, and I sensed that they did not feel threatened. Actually I felt protected, as if I could relax within this great herd. In their own ways, they have been caretaking and protecting the grasslands since ancient times, giving the land what it needs to thrive, so that they might thrive in return.”

Paul Winter: “Coming to see the Buffalo again one afternoon, we came upon the old abandoned ranch house, and over the gate was a large sign: ‘Home on the Range.’ We knew then what melody should be heard with these Buffalo voices. I imagined playing this time-worn song as if I were the ghost of some long-departed cowboy.”


from Crestone, released December 17, 2007
Public Domain, arr. by Paul Winter (Living Earth Music, BMI)

Paul Winter l soprano sax

© ℗ 2007 Earth Music Productions, LLC
Produced by Paul Winter and Peter May
All Rights Reserved


all rights reserved



Paul Winter Litchfield

Paul Winter is a seven-time Grammy-winning saxophonist, whose sextet was the first jazz group to perform at the White House in 1962. His second group, the Paul Winter Consort, interweaves sounds from the natural world with classical and ethnic traditions, and the spontaneous spirit of jazz. Their annual Winter Solstice Celebrations and Earth Mass are among the most popular events in New York. ... more

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