Although the sextet's original orientation was bop, their Latin American tour had introduced them to the origins of some of those new musical forms, like bossa nova, that were becoming popular in the States and (as Winter points out) presage his future interest in world music. Count Me In offers a nice mix of the band's varied interests. There is some hard-driving bop like "Routeousness," some low-down blues, "Them Nasty Hurtin' Blues," and a lot of Latin American sounds like "Casa Camara." Winter points to the album's second track, "Papa Zimbi," an adaptation of a Haitian folk song, as an example of the kind of early fascination with world music which was to blossom in his later career.
The original sextet featured on the first disc has Winter on the alto sax, Dick Whitsell on trumpet, Les Rout on baritone, Warren Bernhardt on piano, Richard Evans on bass, and Harold Jones on drums. Changes in personnel on the second disc include bassist and drummer Ben Riley, except for three tracks that feature Cecil McBee on bass and drummer Freddie Waits. The second disc also has Winter working on the soprano sax, another indication of what is to come.
Listening to the rich sound of the Paul Winter Sextet, jazz fans less than thrilled with what they may consider his apostasy, may have even greater cause to be upset at the thought of what might have been. These are two discs with a lot of fine music, whether the Lalo Schifrin arrangement of the "Toccata" from his Suite Gillespiana, the haunting album closer "We Shall Overcome," or the "Mystery Blues" which none of the band members seem to remember. Count Me In is the kind of album that has got to whet the appetite for more, but since more is unlikely, you have to be happy for at least this much.