In a discussion over at the Windham Hill Lovers Facebook group, Will Ackerman talked about the original of the classic Windham Hill logo:
“The logo was designed by my friend Jay Durgan… he and I were on Skyline Blvd above Palo Alto and Stanford and slightly over onto the western side on Old La Honda Rd. and walking in an open field ringed with redwood trees… Jay looked to the west and saw the sun going down behind the redwood trees and said something like “there’s your logo.” It was inventive in that it was a line drawing that incorporated a “half tone” in part of the shadow of the trees.”
Poloroid posted by photographer Randy Lutge
Introducing Windham Hill Lovers on Facebook
Fan of George Winston, Will Ackerman and other Windham Hill artists? Join to experience and share music, photos, concert info, recent releases, memories and more at the new Windham Hill Lovers group…
The Windhaming Oaks have sprouted another acorn. I’ve seen so many thoughtful comments from people who care about the music and artists who came together to form Windham Hill Records. It seemed right to have a place of our own with a multitude of voices and perspectives on the music we love.
Windhaming.com will remain as a discography project (and keep the comments coming) Windhaming’s Facebook page will remain as a place to promote the activity here, and with weekly posts of music.
Windham Hill Re-issues – From a mighty oak, many acorns spring.
New re-issues, Windham Hill artists performing live, Imaginary Road studios carrying on the tradition – it’s a good time to be a Windham Hill fan
In 2009, I was trying to find liner notes for a Windham Hill album online google responded with an uncharacteristic yawn – nothing there. A quick search for a complete discography of one of the most important American labels of the late 20th century yielded incomplete results.
So much good music being ignored – it reminded me of how the now mighty Blue Note records was treated in the early 80’s before their owners realized the value of a good label. I already owned 40-50 of the 106 vinyl re-issues, and had a desire to learn WordPress and a lot of time on my hands between jobs.
And so was born Windhaming.
It felt like I was a lone voice holding up the value of Windham Hill artists (I wasn’t, but close to it). Did something change, or only our awareness of it?
Artists were touring, but few re-issues were coming out – Valley Entertainment had only two at the time. Will Ackerman had already founded Imaginary Road and artists he was producing were winning awards, but it was well before he issued the very Windham Hill-like compilations known as The Gathering (and The Gathering II).
I update the Facebook page much more frequently than this main site. if you’re not following us on Facebook, now is the time: http://www.facebook.com/Windhaming
Here’s a (certainly incomplete) roundup of some current Windham Hill activity:
Windham Hill Re-issues
The reissues are here! We’ve been beating the Windham Hill drum (okay, gong) for many years and hardly heard an echo. Now, we are in an era with a slate of reissues:
– GrassTops Recordings has put out two Robbie Basho Windham Hill albums (with Visions of the Country transferred to digital by yours truly).
– Valley Entertainment has released 10 titles (mainly later retrospectives),
– Adventure Music has just re-released Mike Marshall and Darol Anger’s Chiaroscuro and Darol Anger and Barbra Higbie’s Tideline, with three more titles scheduled to come.
– Audio Fidelity has just re-issues Michael Hedges’ Aerial Boundaries on vinyl and SACD.
Windham Hill Artists record and tour
So many artists regularly perform and record. Some are much better than others in promoting their concerts, but in the past two years, we’ve seen the following artists live (links to tour pages, where available):
Also recording, touring or otherwise active:
- Mike Marshall
- Darol Anger
- Scott Cossu
- Philip Aaberg
- Mark Isham
- GE Stinson and Phil Maggini of Shadowfax
- Linda Waterfall
- David Qualey
- Russel Walder
- Ira Stein (plays sometimes in the SF Bay Area, but has no real web presence we could find).
- Malcolm Dalglish
- Eugene Friesen
- Wim Mertens
- Tim Story
- Paul McCandless
- Pierce Pettis
- John Gorka
- The Nylons
- Clff Eberhardt
- David Torn
- Daniel Hecht is now an author
Will Ackerman, along with Tom Eaton, continues to produce outstanding music that will be familiar to WH fans under the aegis of Imaginary Road studios. So much good new music. http://imaginaryroadstudios.com
So go, get out there and explore. The artists are generally performing much better 30 years on than ever before. Let some new music grow on you till it gives you the same thrills as the old classics. Most of all, enjoy.
Windham Hill Records Sampler ’84 – Selections from the Windham Hill Records Album Catalogue
Michael Hedges / Mark Isham / William Ackerman / George Winston / Shadowfax / Alex de Grassi / Scott Cossu / Billy Oskay & Micheal O Domhnaill
Windham Hill Records Sampler ’84 Review
Coming at the absolute crest of Windham Hill’s artistic and financial success, this is arguably the album to recommend if you are only to have one Windham Hill album. And if you were relegated to some kind of special hypothetical hell that allowed only one Windham Hill album in your life, well, it would be a hell with a bit of mercy in it if this were indeed the one pressing to keep you company. It’s got it all: Hedges, Ackerman and de Grassi on the groundbreaking acoustic guitar end; George Winston’s Thanksgiving representing the holiday albums to come with its autumnal glow, and the ensemble performances of Shadowfax, Nightnoise (before they were Nightnoise), Scott Cossu, and Isham’s On the Threshold of Liberty.
The Windham Hill Annual samplers were a driving force in the label’s popularity. Ask anyone who was around at the time, and they’ll remember either George Winston, the Winter Solstice albums or the samplers. The samplers were frequently featured on the Billboard charts, far outselling the original albums in virtually every case. Each release has its own flavor. ’81 had a focussed purity on solo performances, ’82 adds contemplative complexity akin to chamber jazz. On this release, there’s an expansiveness and confidence in the composition and performances that for the first time brings the underlying joy to the surface.
The mastering here is by the legendary Bernie Grundman. Grundman was mastering engineer for A&M records for many years before staring his own studio in Hollywood in 1984. The BG mark in the runout grooves generally is as good a guarantee of quality as is Rudy Van Gelder’s RVG mark. Production is most frequently by Steven Miller, whose work clearly grew with the label – or possibly helped drive the growth of the label.
Windham Hill Records Sampler ’84 Liner Notes
- Aerial Boundaries 4.45
- Michael Hedges
- Naked Ear Music BMI & Windham Hill Music BMI
- Aerial Boundaries WH-1032
- Produced by William Ackerman, Michael Hedges and Steven Miller
- On the Threshold of Liberty 7.29
- Mark Isham
- Windham Hill Music BMI
- Vapor Drawings WH-1027
- Produed by Steven Miller
- Ventana 5.18
- William Ackeman
- Windham Hill Music BMI
- Past Light WH-1028
- Produced by William Ackerman and Steven Miller
- Thanksgiving 4.04
- George Winston
- Windham Hill Music BMI
- December WH-1025
- Produced by William Ackerman and George Winston
- Shadowdance 5.20
- Greenshadow Music BMI, Administered by Windham Hill Music BMI
- Shadowdance WH-1029
- Produced by Chuck Greenberg
- Western 4.02
- Alex de Grassi
- Tropo Music BMI, Adminstered by Windham Hill Music BMI
- Southern Exposure WH-1030
- Produced by William Ackerman and Steven Miller
- Oristano Sojourn 4.55
- Scott Cossu
- Silver Crow Music BMI and Windham Hill Music BMI
- Islands WH-1033
- Produced by Steven Miller
- The Cricket’s Wicket 6.16
- Billy Oskay and Micheal O Domhnaill
- Nightnoise Music BMI and Windham Hill Music BMI
- Nightnoise WH-1031
- Produced by Billy Oskay and Micheal O Domhnaill
- Digital Transfer and Assembly by Steven Miller and Dan MacDonell at M&K Sound Corporation, Culver City, CA
- Mastered by Bernie Grundman at Bernie Grundman Mastering, Hollywood, CA
- Cover Photo by John Cooper
- Design by Anne Robinson
- Manufactured by Windham Hill Records, a Division of Windham Hill Productions Inc. Box 9388, Stanford, CA 94395 (c) (p) 1984 Distributed by A&M Records, Inc.
- Windham Hill is a registered trademark of Windham Hill Productions Inc.
- All Rights Reserved.
A year passes by
Everything and Nothing goes
straight to memory
With a full year since my last post on Windhaming proper, it’s time for a roundup of Windhaming activity over the last year (with music samples!)
Sony/Legacy will be reissuing select Windham Hil recordings, starting with Bill Quist’s album of Erik Satie compositions. I’m happy to share more details as I know them, and Sony permits.
There’s lots of Windhaming on Facebook! I regularly publish video clips from YouTube, news from artists, and observations. It’s a nice feed and reminder of old favorites and things going on with many of the artists. I publish roughly weekly, but really just when the mood strikes. So if you’ve been here, and not there, over the past year you’ve missed 52 posts.
Robbie Basho finally gets his due. Last year, I did the analog to digital conversion for Robbie Basho’s “Visions of the Country” re-issue on Grasstops and Gnomelife records. I’m quite proud that it was named Pitchfork magazine’s reissue of the year. The label is in process of re-releasing Basho’s Art of the Acoustic Steel String Guitar as well. There was also a nice 4 Men With Beards re-issue of The Seal of the Blue Lotus.
I’m very pleased to announce that Grasstops will also be re-releasing the stunning 1982 solo guitar debut album of Windhaming friend Dennis Taylor – Dayspring. Windhaming is also scheduled to do the analog-to-digital conversion and the first listen indicates this will be a treat for Windham Hill fans.
Grasstops is the brainchild of guitarist Kyle Fosburgh, a brilliant young guitarist and label founder. His playing starts where Basho and Fahey ended, and he perfectly captures a gorgeous combination of darkness and light, complexity and gentle beauty.
I’ve been savoring Kori Linae Carothers absolutely terrific Fire In the Rainstorm album, produced by Will Ackerman. If you like the work of Liz Story, you must get this – thoughtful, gorgeous and passionate while always still traveling new ground with a distinctive voice. Hear what Will Ackerman has to say about Fire In the Rainstorm.
In other Windham Hill related artists, I’ve been listening to a lot of Jeff Pearce. Jeff worked with Ackerman, and the album covers certainly show they have the same taste in design… but the music pushes farther in to ambient territory, while remaining accessible to new age fans. In my book, he’s doing work on the level of Harold Budd and Brian Eno. There’s just no higher praise.
I saw George Winston live! Like many fans, Winston’s Autumn is what started me on Windham Hill. I’ve heard the album too many times, and just don’t enjoy it like I used to. But live? There’s so much there. Winston always stretched out (the last time I saw his was 1985). In the absence of new material, seeing George play live is an absolute must for any fan. Gorgeous and better than he was on the albums, even recent ones.
I saw Alex de Grassi and Michael Manring live! Seriously, it kills me that these folks aren’t selling out huge halls, Both artists are better than ever. Just outstanding live performers. I spend a fortune on music, but as Shadowfax’s GE Stinson passionately argues on his Facebook page, the current music industry is bad for artists and therefore bad for music – if there’s no money to be made on Spotify or iTunes, and CD sales are down, where will the money come from? Vinyl lovers like me are growing their purchases by 30-40% every year… but I doubt we’ll ever be more than 5-10% of total music purchases.
Of course, Windham Hill is not my only musical interest, sometimes I’m chasing other labels – like Blue Note, Concord Jazz and Erased Tapes. Windhaming readers will likely enjoy the work of Nils Frahm, A Winged Victory for the Sullen and Olafur Arnalds on the Erased Tapes label.
Why did it take so long to publish Liz Story’s Unaccountable Effect?
I created the site when I was between work in 2009, and had a lot more time. My clients have been keeping me quite busy, but a few weird things conspired for this post. First, I absolutely love the album and wanted to do it justice. I got Liz Story’s email after a show a couple of years back and hoped to get some comments from her on the album – alas, no response ever came. I also happened to drop my copy and scratch up side 2, which meant more time passed before I picked up another copy at Amoeba. Finally, I just realized I was letting perfection be the enemy of the good, and decided it was time to publish another page. The original intention of the site was simply to publish liner notes. Wanting to do a good job just slowed me down.
Enjoy the music.
Unaccountable Effect Review
From Mark Isham’s opening synthesizer notes to the title track Unaccountable Effect, it’s clear that Liz Story’s second album (and Windham Hill’s 34th release) is delving into new territory with grace, emotion and depth. Liz Story’s debut Solid Colors shines brightly as one of the many high points in the Windham Hill catalog and in the rich selection of solo piano releases across the decades.
So how do you follow up a brilliant debut? An artist has a lifetime to create their first release, and generally a year or so for their second. For lesser artists the cracks start to show, and either you get a weaker rehash of the first album. For Liz Story, a further depth is revealed as the ideas and passions revealed in Solid Colors gain dynamic impact and space.
Unaccountable Effect is the thirty-fourth Windham Hill release and Liz Story’s second album.
Unaccountable Effect Track Listings
- Unaccountable Effect Ο 8:10
- Devotion 3:02
- Mostly The Hours 4:16
- Starfinder 4:42
- Rope Trick 6:12
- My Heart, Your Heart Π 3:54
- Leap of Faith 3:53
- Deeper Reasons 6:03
Unaccountable Effect Credits/Liner Notes
All compositions by Liz Story and published by Windham Hill Music (BMI) except Ο by Liz Story and Mark Isham, published by Windham Hill Music (BMI) and Earle-Tone Music (ASCAP)/Lost Lake Arts Music (ASCAP) and Π by Dick Grove published by Dick Grove Publications (ASCAP)
- Liz Story: Piano, all selections. Drum on “Deeper Reasons.”
- Mark Isham: Synthesizer on “Unaccountable Effect.”
- Bob Conti: Percussion on “Deeper Reasons.”
Produced and engineered by Steven Miller.
All selections recorded at Sound Castle Studio Center, Los Angeles, CA.
Assistant engineer: Jeff Vaughan