When it comes to picking unusual musical collaborators, nobody can challenge Paul Winter. The saxophonist's performances with a whale, an eagle and a wolf have made him the Dr. Doolittle of jazz. Unsatisfied, Winter recently put those experiences aside to forge a partnership with nothing less than the Grand Canyon. Clearly, this is a man who thinks big.
Who is this man? Where does he get his inspiration? How does he develop his music? The opportunity to answer those questions came in 1985 when Winter took his quartet on a boat trip through the Grand Canyon, the high points of which have been captured in "Canyon Consort" (airing on channels 24 and 50 tonight at 8, on Channel 15 tonight at 9, and Friday at 11 p.m. on Channel 28.)
At bottom, the subject is Winter the visionary, the vagabond, the creator. At one point, Winter defines the trip's purpose as finding "sounds that really are of the canyon rather than just about it." Whether he succeeds is arguable--just as it is debatable whether "Canyon Consort" itself is viable.
The 60-minute program is part-documentary, part-travelogue and part-music video. While this something-for-everyone approach won't satisfy anyone looking for a documentary, or a travelogue or a music video, it nevertheless remains a revealing glimpse at the inner workings of a musician seemingly incapable of playing a sour note.