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
- Ohana 5:02
- Gypsy Dance 7:52
- St. Croix 4:49
- Islands 3:47
- Harlequin Messenger 7:14
- Vashon Poem 3:31
- Oristano Sojourn 4:55*
- Fawn 4:54
Islands Credits and Liner Notes
- Recorded at Skyline Studios, New York City; March & April 1984
- Assistant Engineer Arthur Payson
- Additional recording at Sorcerer Sound, New York City
- Assistant Engineer: David Avidor
- Mixed at Skyline Studios, New York City
- Assistant Engineers: David Young & Scott Ansell
- Ohana & Oristano Sojourn mixed at Sorcerer Sound, New York City
- Assistant Engineer: Mario Salvati
- Mastered by Bernie Grundman at Bernie Grundman Mastering, Hollywood, CA
- Graphic design by Anne Robinson
- Cover photo by Wernher Krutein/PHOTOVAULT
- Liner photo by Robin Paris
- Scott Cossu: Piano
- Dave Valentin: Flutes
- Mark Egan: Bass and 8 string bass
- Danny Gottleib: Drums
- Roger Squitero: Congas and percussion
- Steve Gaboury: Synthesizer
- Michael Urbaniak: Violin
- Tom Varner: French horns
- Eugene Friesen: Cello
- *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>>