Current Artist Web Site: http://www.georgewinston.com/
George Winston’s “Autumn” page: http://www.georgewinston.com/recordings/01934-11610-2.php
“Autumn” is the second album by George Winston, and the twelfth album released by Windham Hill. This is the breakthrough release that propelled Windham Hill from small, passionate “folk” label to genre-defining, multi-platinum selling label, and for good reason.
In context of the label’s development, this was really just the first album with crossover appeal – Winston’s December and later, the Winter Solstice albums brought Windham Hill more and more into mainstream consciousness.
Autumn found an audience who had loved Keith Jarrett’s enduringly popular The Koln Concert from 1976, and wanted more. Indeed , there’s a fair resemblance in mood, artistry and overall feel. But where Jarrett was improvising, Winston wrote densely rich compositions that drew from folk, rock and classical influences into something new. Moods shift and tempos vary – giving life to the otherwise serious nature of the compositions. Over the last 30 years Winston has continued developing his performances of most of the pieces here to great success. Few are the artists who can reinvent such iconic performances into something significantly better than the original, but Winston does it. Or maybe I’ve simply listened to the album to death – it’s been such a regular companion of mine that it’s difficult to find anything new in it. However, if you have only ever had a passing experience with Autumn, consider this an essential recording that will reward revisiting.
Like Alex De Grassi, Winston writes music that is meant to evoke a place. That he succeeds brilliantly is evidenced by the myriad people who post YouTube videos of snowy roads, high-def landscapes, and mountain creeks to the soundtrack of Autumn. For Winston, it’s Montana itself that’s the muse. Sure the albums have seasonal titles, but it’s the season as experienced in Montana.
If you have thoughts or experiences about this album, or have questions about its recording, please leave a comment, share a memory, or ask a question in the comments section below.
Side One: September (26:22)
- Colors/Dance 10:25
- Woods 6:47
- Longing/Love 9:10
Side Two: October (20:16)
- Road 4:14
- Moon 7:44
- Sea 2:42
- Stars 5:36
Recorded Jun 19 & 20, 1980
First, visit the Dancing Cat (George Winston) YouTube page featuring “Woods”. It’s a pleasure to hear a new performance of this song.
- Longing/Love 9:10
- Road 4:14
- Moon 7:44
- Stars 5:36
- All Compositions by George Winston
- Al Selections Windham Hill Music BMI
- Manufactured by Windham Hill Records
- Box 9388 Stanford CA 94305
- © (P) Windham Hill Records 1980
Liner Notes from the 20th Anniversary Edition
1. Colors/Dance (10:25)
Inspired by the blazing yellow cottonwoods of Miles City and Billings, Montana, where I mainly grew up.
The middle section of improvisation over two chords was inspired by the great band The Doors (Ray Manzarek, Robby Krieger, John Densmore and the late Jim Morrison [1943-1971]), particularly the improvisation on two chords in the instrumental section ofLight My Fire from their first album in 1967, THE DOORS (Elektra). This section was also inspired by the modal improvisation over different sets of two chords by the late, great saxophonist John Coltrane (1926-1967). This style of improvisation appears in the middle of Coltrane’s version of My Favorite Things from the 1960 album of the same name (which also inspired The Doors) and his version of Greensleeves from the 1961 recording THE COMPLETE AFRICA/BRASS SESSIONS (Impulse!). Another inspiration was the Coltrane-influenced version by the great jazz organist Jimmy Smith, from his 1965 album ORGAN GRINDER SWING (Verve). I was also inspired by a similar improvisation by the late, great composer/guitarist Frank Zappa on his song Black Napkins, especially from hearing him play it live in 1975. He recorded it several times, including on his albums MAKE A JAZZ NOISE HERE (Rykodisc), FRANK ZAPPA PLAYS THE MUSIC OF FRANK ZAPPA––A MEMORIAL TRIBUTE (available from the family site at www.zappa.com), YOU CAN’T DO THAT ON STAGE ANYMORE VOL. 6 (Rykodisc) and ZOOT ALLURES (Rykodisc). His music has been very inspirational to me in general, especially his 1969 instrumental album HOT RATS (Rykodisk).
The Doors’ first album, which is like one long song from the beginning to the end, is the album that most inspired AUTUMN, which I recorded thirteen years later in 1980. Of all the composers whose music I love to interpret, The Doors’ and Jim Morrison’s songs have taken the longest for me to make them sound how I want—some have taken 34 years. I now play ten Doors songs at the solo piano dances I am currently doing, and I do a solo piano version of one of Jim Morrison’s songs, Bird of Prey, that he sang a cappella on his poetry album, AN AMERICAN PRAYER (Elektra). Jim Morrison has inspired and influenced my playing more than any other vocalist. (The Doors’ official website is www.thedoors.com.)
When I play this song live I now play it as a medley with Tamarack Pines, the song that begins my album FOREST. Colors/Dancewas composed in 1979.
2. Woods (6:47)
Also inspired by the trees in Miles City, Montana, which was built around the Yellowstone River in Eastern Montana. Composed in 1974.
3. Longing/Love (9:10)
Composed in 1975
4. Road (4:14)
Composed in 1971
5. Moon (7:44)
The second half is influenced by traditional Japanese koto music. When I play this live I now play it with Lights in the Sky from the FOREST album. The first half was composed in 1973, and the second half was composed in 1979.
6. Sea (2:42)
Particularly influenced by The Doors. The introduction is inspired by the late, great guitarist and composer John Fahey (1939-2001). Composed in 1973.
7. Stars (5:36)
Inspired by composer Dominic Frontiere’s great soundtracks for the first year of the television series THE OUTER LIMITS from 1962-1963, some of which are on the soundtrack album THE OUTER LIMITS ORIGINAL SOUNDTRACK (Crescendo Records).
Also inspired by Russian composer Aram Khachaturian’s (1903-1978) Adagio, from the Gayaneh ballet suite of 1942 (which was prominently used in the soundtrack of the film 2001), and by Lullaby, from the same suite. Composed in 1973.
Produced by William Ackerman
Recorded June 19 & 20, 1980
Engineered by Harn Soper and Russell Bond (Stars)
Mastered by Bernie Grundman at Bernie Grundman Mastering, Hollywood, CA
Cover photo by Ron May
Design by William Ackerman
All pieces composed by George Winston
All selections published by Imaginary Road Music/Dancing Cat Music (BMI)
Special thanks to Henry Roeland Byrd (the late Professor Longhair), Thomas “Fats” Waller, the late Bola Sete, the late John Fahey, Alex deGrassi, John Creger, Steve Reich, Dominic Frontiere, Nels Cline, Russell Bond, Megan Corwin, the late Frank Zappa and the members of The Doors: Ray Manzarek, Robby Krieger, John Densmore and the late Jim Morrison
- Vinyl pressings released as WHS C-1012; WH 1012.
- CD released as WD 1012
- Also released on BASF Chrome Cassette.
George Winston lives in Santa Cruz, CA and owns Dancing Cat Records. Dancing Cat promotes George Winston and published Hawaiian slack-key guitar recordings and concerts.
From The Music Annex web site:
We built and finished our first room, Studio A, in the summer of 1976. The other rooms were started shortly after that and we’ve eventually ended up with 5 studio spaces, Studios A, B, C and a Mastering Suite, as well as our Studio D, a converted video sound stage with an audio control room attached.
Our location turned out to have benefits we didn’t realize would be so instrumental to our longevity till later on. Being located smack dab between San Francisco and San Jose has given us a unique blend of clients both in the music and the corporate/advertising world. Before the dawn of “Silicon Valley” started to rise in the early 80’s our forte was “quality analog recording of acoustic instruments”, and many musicians became privy to our prowess at capturing the essence of performance by not letting technology get in the way of the creative process… getting the recording right the first time… and knowing when to let the “tape” continue to roll.
Progressive record labels like Windham Hill and SUGO Music, companies that became known for their unique musical artists and progressive recording techniques, found their way to our door. All of the important, early Windham Hill records, when their signature sound was just being defined, were recorded here: Will Ackerman, Alex deGrassi, Michael Hedges, George Winston, Scott Cossu and many others.