WH-1035 Windham Hill Records Sampler ’84

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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

Side One

  • 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

Side Two

  • Shadowdance 5.20
  • Shadowfax
  • 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.

The Wider World of Windhaming

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.  

WH-1034 Liz Story Unaccountable Effect

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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

Side One

  1. Unaccountable Effect Ο 8:10
  2. Devotion 3:02
  3. Mostly The Hours 4:16
  4. Starfinder 4:42

Side Two

  1. Rope Trick 6:12
  2. My Heart, Your Heart Π 3:54
  3. Leap of Faith 3:53
  4. 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

Robbie Basho’s Visions of the Country re-released – first time in 35 years.

Robbie Basho’s ‘Visions of the Country’ reissued on CD/LP 2013

Windhaming is proud to be a contributor to a new re-issue of Robbie Basho’s “Visions of the Country.” See the original Windhaming review here: http://windhaming.com/2010/01/23/whs-c-1005-robbie-basho-visions-of-the-country/

Visions of the Country

Visions of the Country

With the original master tapes long gone, Windhaming was charged with transcribing a pristine vinyl pressing to digital for mastering. 

Equipment: 
  • Vinyl Vacuum: VPI HW-17 Record Cleaning Machine
  • Turntable 1:  VPI Scout; JMW-9 arm; Dynavector 10×5 cartridge
  • Turntable 2: VPI Classic 1; JMW-10T arm; Dynavector XX-2 Mk II cartridge
  • Gingko Cloud Isolation platform
  • Cables: Furutech AG-12 tonearm cable
  • Analog to Digital Converter: TC Impact Twin
  • Computer: Apple Mac Mini 
  • Software: PureVinyl by Channel D
  • Power Regeneration: PS Audio PowerPlant Premier
  • Power Cables: Acoustic Zen Tsunami

Robbie Basho Visions of the Country Re-Issue Press Release

  • Release dates: Vinyl: August 20 — CD: September 25, 2013
  • July, 26, 2013
  • Grass-Tops Recording

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Out of print for 35 years, Robbie Basho gains new recognition with this exciting re-release of one of the finest albums ever recorded.

‘Visions of the Country’ was originally released on the hugely successful Windham Hill label back in 1978, as one of their earliest releases. Grass-Tops Recording (GrassTopsRecording.com) and Gnome Life Records (GnomeLifeRecords.com) have teamed up to bring this lost masterwork back to the public for the first time since it’s original release.

Grass-Tops Recording will be handling the CD reissue, and Gnome Life Records will be issuing an LP version. This record has been faithfully restored and remastered by Kyle Fosburgh (KyleFosburgh.com), Joe Churchich (Squeaky Clean Audio, Andover, MN), Andrew Weathers (AndrewWeathers.com), and John Dark (Curator at Windhaming.com). Both formats (CD/LP) are available for pre-order on each website now!

http://youtu.be/0K7J371FR24

About Grass-Tops Recording

Grass-Tops Recording is a record label dedicated to archiving/reissuing music from the past, as well as featuring news artists who are blazing trails with original innovations in sound.

Contact:

Kyle Fosburgh, Owner/Founder

Grass-Tops Recording

kyle.fosburgh@yahoo.com

GrassTopsRecording.com (CD)

GnomeLifeRecords.com (LP)

Windham Hill Vinyl Collection

Still in progress, the Windhaming Windham Hill Vinyl collection has recently expanded and moved into a new home under the Windhaming Oaks. We’ve had a few requests for photos over on the Windhaming Facebook Page, so we’re sharing pictures here as well. If you haven’t visited the Windhaming Facebook page, come take a look. It’s a nice community of music lovers, with frequent videos from Windham Hill artists.

I purchased about 30 LP’s, and about 50 CD’s before starting Windhaming. The remaining 100 or so have been purchased generally one by one for $1 or $2 at Amoeba in Berkeley or San Francicso. The Audiophile editions were largely found at the Beat in Sacramento. I’ve shopped a lot in Europe lately (Budapest, London, Moscow and Hamburg) and haven’t found a single Windham Hill album there, though my ECM collection has grown a bit. I’m about to place all the albums in “Blake” sleeves – the crystal-clear protective outer jackets, and so took a moment to photograph the collection while it was easier to read the titles.

You’ll see several duplicates. These are generall promo and non-promo copies, but also a few audiophile editions, DMM masters, or alternate covers (what’s up with two covers for Isham’s Film Music?) There is a copy of every disc up through 1083, then a few still missing.

Click on the picture for a larger shot. Enjoy – and feel free to respond with pictures of your own collection.

DSC_0155DSC_0156DSC_0157Windham Hill Discography - Vinyl

WH-1033 Scott Cossu Islands

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WH-1033 Scott Cossu Islands Review

With Islands, Scott Cossu builds on the group efforts of his first two Windham Hill releases, with a  star-studded group of collaborators. Mining much of the same territory as Spyro Gyra and the Pat Metheny group, Cossu adds a romanticism and sweetness that belies the genuine complexity and ambitious appropriation of influences. Islands is Cossu’s second release on Windham Hill, following Wind Dance.

If you’re coming new to Scott Cossu, you may be in for a treat. But for me, this is a tough album to review. I’ve heard the tracks that made it onto samplers (Ohana and Oristano Sojourn) too many times; they had lost freshness, and only hearing the non-sampler tracks allowed me to appreciate the album as a whole.  The relatively flat and thin recording (when compared to other Windham Hill releases) doesn’t help. This was the early days of digital, and the recording doesn’t do justice to the amazing musicianship that courses throughout the album. What a treat to listen to the album anew.

After opening with the high-energy, if over-synthesized Ohana, Cossu fears nothing by delving into the near eight minute Gypsy Dance – wending its way from a quiet piano piece through a spirited two-step between piano and violin. St. Croix is a richly colorful and plaintive conversation between piano and horn, and Islands gives a cheery Caribbean vibe with the facile flute playing of Dave Valentin.

Cossu seems to save his more relaxed and experimental tracks for the second side, from the 7 minute crescendo of Harlequin Messenger to the pastoral Fawn, the feel is just right – searching, and with an optimistic, but not cloying or celebratory quality, Cossu’s musicianship and compositional skills shine.

I would call Islands underappreciated, but apparently it’s just me who was a late adopter. Both fans and critics celebrate Islands. You might, too. Thanks to the magic of YouTube and the very excellent WindhamHillLovers channel, you can listen for yourself below.

Islands Track Listing

Side One

  • Ohana 5:02
  • Gypsy Dance 7:52
  • St. Croix 4:49
  • Islands 3:47

Side Two

  • Harlequin Messenger 7:14
  • Vashon Poem 3:31
  • Oristano Sojourn 4:55*
  • Fawn 4:54

Islands Credits and Liner Notes

  • *Flutes arranged by Dave Valentin
  • All songs composed by Scott Cossu
  • Silver Crow Music/Windham Hill Music (BMI)
  • Dave Valentin courtesy GRP Records
  • Mark Egan and Danny Gottlieb courtesy of Antilles Records
  • Tom Varner courtesy of Soul Note Records

Special thanks to Will Ackerman, Anned Robinso, Steven Miller, Steve Lowy and all the people at Windham hill for their long and continued support. Also to my family, Robin, Jenny and our Creator.

Islands: Recorded on Manhattan, the most famous island, represents my progression of travels and my love of islands, their inspirations and the gypsy spirit within. May this music help unite us all as a family of islands.

(c) (p) Windham Hill Records, 1984.

<<note: liner notes taken from the Canadian release, WH-9-1033 – it’s just what I had on hand>>