THE WINTER TREE (formerly MAGUS) is a band formed by composer/multi-instrumentalist Andrew Laitres(a.k.a. Andrew Robinson) with vocalist/guitarist Mark Bond and his wife Deb Bond on keyboards. MAGUS was formed by Andrew in 1985 after a 4 year stint on the regional cover band circuit. Andrew wanted to focus his time and talents on creating original compositions. Several demos and cassette releases were issued between 1987 and 1993. At a New York City YES fan convention in 1994 Andrew noticed many vendors selling Progressive Rock CDs and merchandise. This inspired him to record the first full length MAGUS CD, the self-titled debut, released in 1995. Andrew formed a band to perform live with Debbie Moore on keyboards and Jeff Costello on drums. The group played 3 well received concerts and began to work on the follow up CD, "Traveller". Costello bowed out before recording commenced and, after laying down tracks to several songs(one which she co-wrote), Debbie Moore left. Andrew and the egineer on the album, Bryce Chicoine, finished the project.Andrew signed with the Progrock label INEARVISIONS and released "Traveller" in 1997. Critical and listener reception was positive and the CD started to sell. The 20 minute opus "Rif" was hailed by some as a minor Progressive Rock classic. Comparisons to the popular Prog band Porcupine Tree started. Then Robert Wolf, INEARVISION's owner, disappeared. Phone calls were not returned and fans started not getting their orders and distributors were not able to get more CDs. This killed all momentum. Andrew, after a few months, tracked Wolf down at his day job. No apology was made by Wolf for his erratic behavior and Andrew severed all ties with INEARVISION. In 1998, Andrew independently released the 18 minute EP "Highway 375". This was an all-instrumental work with a decidedly electronic feel and was very well received.As the millennium came to a close in 1999, Andrew released a compilation CD entitled "Echoes From the Edge of the Millenium: Magus 1987-1999". This release contained remixes of tracks from the previous 3 MAGUS CDs as well as 4 previously unreleased tracks. Magus was now back on track and Andrew formed a new lineup featuring Japanese keyboard wizard Rue Yamauchi and drummer Steve Perkins. The band played a very well received debut gig in the Spring of 2000. Then Yamauchi abruptly quit. He agreed to play later that year at an opening gig for the renowned California Guitar Trio and at the Orion Studios in Baltimore, Maryland. After the Orion gig he left for good.Perkins followed suit a few weeks later.But Andrew carried on and in 2001 released "the Green Earth" with several guests. This was somewhat of a new direction and is the best selling Magus CD so far. More acoustic instruments were utilized and shorter more accessible compositions.2002 saw the release of the MAGUS concept album "the Garden" featuring a short story by Andrew printed in the CD booklet. Drummer Tomas Hjort of the Swedish band CROSS was behind the kit and Gary Strater of the 70's American prog band STARCASTLE made a guest appearance on bass. Gary sadly passed away a few years later. "The Garden" remains Andrew's favorite Magus CD and most of the progrock critics agreed."Lucid Dreamer", a reissue of "Traveller" and the "Highway 375" EP along with 2 live tracks from 2000, was released by Big Balloon Music in 2005.
In late 2010 Andrew decided to rename the band THE WINTER TREE, after the song of the same title by one of Andrew's favorite bands, Renaissance. Andrew, along with new bandmates Deb and Mark Bond, released the self-titled CD "The Winter Tree" in late March of 2011. Deb Bond(formerly Deb Moore) is a former member of Magus from the "Traveller" era. Her husband Mark(guitars and vocals extraordinaire) is also a solo artist and has released several CDs.The Winter Tree released their 2nd CD, "Guardians", in June of 2012. Mark and Deb contributed material and Mark sang almost all of the lead vocals.
The 3rd Winter Tree, entitled "Twilight of the Magicians" was released in December of 2013. Mark and Deb Bond opted to not participate. The album features mostly instrumental tracks performed by Andrew and a few guests. Many of the songs were inspired by Rudolf Steiner's writings on the lost continent of Atlantis.
2014 saw the release of "The Best of Magus and The Winter Tree: 1988-2013", a "best of" and companion piece to the "Echoes From the Edge of the Millennium: 1987-1999" compilation from 1999. Also released was an ambient music solo album by Andrew Laitres entitled "Singularity". This featured ambient instrumentals culled from 2 CDs made in collaboration with Latvian yoga/spiritual teacher Baiba Kranate.
"Earth Below" was released in August of 2015 and featured Mattias Olsson(Anglagard, White Willow, Necromonkey) on drums and also the return of Mark Bond. The album was mixed by Jacob Holm-Lupo of the Norwegian band White Willow. It consists of 8 vocal songs composed by Andrew Laitres.
The Winter Tree released their album, "Mr. Sun", in February 2017. It features many guests including vocalist Alistair Gordon(Tony Banks, "Bankstatement", Sad Cafe) and guitarist Neil Taylor(Tears For Fears, Chris Deburgh) as well as two other vocalists and Canadian guitarist Neil Whitford. All drums were played by Tom Dupree III.
May of 2017 saw the release of Andrew's follow-up to "Singularity", "Morning Meditations". Like the former, it is an album of minimalistic, atmospheric pieces for relaxation and reflection.