Turns out that soprano sax player Paul Winter, best known for the Paul Winter Consort and it's blend of classical, jazz and world music, has an earlier musical persona perhaps somewhat more likely to appeal to the jazz purist. Back in 1961, he and a group of college musicians performing as the Paul Winter Sextet won a contest at the Intercollegiate Jazz Festival and were signed to Columbia Records by legendary producer John Hammond. At the recommendation of Hammond and Dizzy Gillespie, one of the Festival judges, the sextet was sent on a tour of Latin America. The tour's success led to an invitation from first lady Jacqueline Kennedy to perform at the White House as part of her Concerts for Young People by Young People series. Their performance on November 19, 1962 marks the first jazz concert ever presented in the presidential mansion.
That previously unreleased concert is now available, together with a collection of tracks recorded on their Latin American tour and studio recordings for Columbia. Released by Living Music, the two-disc Count Me In commemorates the 50th anniversary of the White House appearance. Recorded in 1962 and 1963, it is a compendium of over two hours of music from the short lived sextet, which broke up after the Kennedy assassination.
In a November interview on WNYC's Soundcheck, Winter describes the sextet as a "little big band." The idea was to recreate the kind of balance between ensemble and soloist which characterized big band arrangements. Their influences, as described in an on-line booklet serving as the album's liner notes, were the Jazztet of Art Farmer and Benny Golson and the Kind of Blue sextet of Miles Davis, with Cannonball Adderley, John Coltrane and Bill Evans—not a bad set of models for young musicians.