Willow is Daniel Hecht’s third album, after Guitar (1973) and Fireheart/Firewater (1977), and the thirteenth album in the Windham Hill discography. Willow is a pleasant laid-back guitar album. Compared to the breakthrough compositions that Ackerman, De Grassi and Basho were releasing at this time, it is much more conventional in style. It also takes a different tack than David Qualey’s classically-informed “Soliliquy.”
Most listeners, this writer included, will find “Willow” unexciting in comparison to the work of his label-mates. Nonetheless, there is much to recommend here. Hecht’s playing is confident, with a good sense of space and timing. His compositions are familiar and unchallenging. But I’ve learned long ago that there are many who will cherish the simple, even simplistic, art over the more technically complex. Sometimes that person is me – I’d be more likely to play “Willow” when others are around than Robbie Basho’s albums – though there’s no doubt that Basho’s intense artistry outclasses Hecht’s competent but modest charms. Indeed, “Willow” will be a pleasant diversion for the completist collector; but hardly worth pursuing to the ends of the earth.
Hecht never released another Windham Hill album, though “Willow” continued in print for many years. In 1989, he gave up playing guitar to take up writing, where he has had much success. As Hecht tells it on his site:
“A medical condition affected my hands and made playing pretty impossible. Giving up the guitar was tough, but I’m glad I did. For one thing, my compositions were very “athletic,” requiring constant practice – time-consuming and boring. And I just couldn’t get as good as I wanted to be I played a lot of concerts with terrific musicians like Alex De Grassi and Michael Hedges, and after a while I realized I didn’t have the level of talent. But I feel fortunate to have been deflected into writing. Telling stories comes naturally to me, and I seem to have an endless well of ideas, observations and interests to draw from.”
Original Release Date: 1980
Current Artist Web Site: http://www.danielhecht.com/
If you have thoughts, memories or experiences experiences to share about this album, or have questions about its recording, we encourage you to use the comments section at the end of this post.
- Willow 5:03
- Autumn 3:27
- Water Mantra 3:48
- Jimmy Blue Eyes 3:07
- Love’s Reply 3:54
- Confluence of the Rivers 3:35
- Shell Game 3:20
- Tanglefoot’s Tales 5:46
- March of the Trolls 3:50
- Afternoon Postlude Soliliquy 3:32
Lead Guitar on Jimmy Blue Eyes by Alex De Grassi
- Produced by William Ackerman
- Recorded at The Music Annex, Menlo Park, Ca.
- Engineered by Russel Bond
- Jimmy Blue Eyes Engineered by Richard Bosworth
- Mastered by LRS
- Pressings by RTI, Camarillo, Ca.
- Photogpraphy by Ron May
- Design by Anne Ackerman
- All Compositions by Daniel Hecht
- All Selections Windham Hill Music BMI
- Manufactured by Windham Hill Records,
- Box 9388 Stanford, Ca. 94305
- ©(p) Windham Hill Records 1980
My especial thanks to Ervin Somogyi, of Berkeley, California, who made my delightful six-string guitar; and to Fred Carlson of Plainfield, Vermont, who made my twelve string. And to my brother Nicholas for his timely and gracious assistance.
“Willow” by Daniel Hecht was originally released on Windham Hill Records as WHS C-1013, and later as WH 1013. CD’s were released as WD 1013.