Monday, November 3, 2014

George Winston - Autumn (1980)

Released: 1980 (Windham Hill)
Produced by: William Ackerman
Peak on the US Billboard 200: 139

Side One Side Two


"Every song I've ever heard, that has gone in and stayed in me, has always reminded me of a season. A picture and a place, maybe, but always a season." -George Winston

It finally got below 50° around these parts so it's time to pull out this album, New Age music's version of the Fall Classic.  These piano solos successfully walk the line between relaxing, sophisticated folk compositions and self-indulgent noodling.  Mellifluous but not frivolous.

I was unfamiliar with this album until about 1984, when I began to discover all of Winston's existing Windham Hill albums.  I hadn't heard of it when it was released, but I don't think I was alone in that late discovery.  I think most people found this album after hearing Winston's 1981 breakthrough album, December.  Even though Autumn was released in late 1980, it didn't debut on the Billboard 200 albums chart until June 1984, where it had a 44 week run.  It debuted on the Billboard Jazz LP chart in April 1983, peaked at #7, and enjoyed a protracted 168 week run, finally leaving the chart in June 1986.  When you consider the Jazz LP chart had only forty spots, those 3+ years become even more impressive.

The basic premise remains the same throughout: an ostinato bass line or other repetitive theme is established onto which additional layers are gradually added and sometimes reduced.   No overdubs, yet Winston is so technically accomplished that when he really gets going, you'd think he had a spare hand or two. By the end of the album, the formula starts to get stale so you're not looking for more, but the album length is such that when it ends, your cup is full and you don't need more.  Perfect length.

For me, this music is perfect for those cool, dark evenings after an afternoon spent raking leaves.  Pour yourself a hot beverage, sit back, close your eyes, and enjoy.  Then rouse yourself, have some dinner, and go on about your evening, completely refreshed.

  1. Road
  2. Colors/Dance
  3. Woods
  4. Moon 
  5. Stars
  6. Longing/Love
  7. Sea

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