George Winston

Probably the best known of all the "new age" pianists active in the 80's and 90's, George Winston sold millions of records during this period with relatively little media hype. His music has been described as impressionistic, folk, blues, jazz and any number of other terms. Winston himself prefers 'folk piano'.

artist:
George Winston

country of origin:
USA

style(s):
Solo piano, folk, ambient, classical

decades active:
70's - 10's

essential releases:

  • Summer (1991, Windham Hill)
  • Forest (1994, Windham Hill)

Reviewed by Mike G

The biggest selling Windham Hill Records artist and probably the best known of all the "new age" pianists active in the 80's and 90's, George Winston sold millions of records during this period with relatively little media hype. His music has been described as impressionistic, folk, blues, jazz and any number of other terms. Winston himself prefers “folk piano”. On more than one occasion back in the day the self-effacing Winston copped flak from the jazz police for his alleged watering down of the leftfield jazz stylings of American contemporary pianist Keith Jarrett. But if he substitutes some discipline and economy for Jarrett’s long bouts of sentimental self-indulgence, then more power to him.

In commercial terms, his music was at the peak of its popularity in the 80's, but Winston’s best albums actually date from a bit later in his recording career: Summer (1991) and Forest (1994). Nothing he's released before or since has the same depth and freshness as these.

Both albums include inspired choices of cover versions: some well-known (“Corina, Corina”), others gleefully obscure (“Graceful Ghost” by jazz organist Larry Young). Personal, intimate and melodic, Winston’s thoughtful interpretations are interspersed with his own compositions which provide a perfect foil for the non-original material. Minimalist composer Steve Reich is the inspiration for “Tamarack Pines”; it opens and closes with dampened keys that create a strange percussive effect ala John Cage, in between which he spins fast, repetitive motifs with both the right and left hands.

Share this:
Share