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Album Review: Restless Wind
George Winston
Cover image of the album Restless Wind by George Winston
Restless Wind
George Winston
2019 / Dancing Cat/RCA
53 minutes
Review by Kathy Parsons
I’m sure I’m not the only one who wondered if George Winston’s 2017 release, Spring Carousel, would be his last album. The music for that album was composed in 2012 and 2013 while Winston was recovering from a bone marrow transplant in Southern CA. He spent time at the piano in the hospital auditorium every night, composing and recording 59 pieces, fifteen of which became Spring Carousel. Restless Wind is Winston’s fifteenth solo piano album and contains some of his most energetic music in years.

The eleven piano solos on Restless Wind document Winston’s sociological observations in American history. He composed two of the pieces on the album, but his amazing arrangements of music that dates back to 1915 definitely make them his own. Winston has always eschewed the “new age” label for his music, preferring “folk” or “rural” piano, and that certainly fits here! Don’t expect to be lulled into a relaxed state with this album - it will more likely have you up and dancing! There are a few rock classics and jazz standards included, but this is no sing-along music - it’s muscular piano that is anything but docile. The legendary George Winston is very definitely back in action!

Restless Wind opens with “Autumn Wind (Pixie #11),” a Winston original. Even from the first few chords, it’s obvious that this is not music for massage! An energetic romp up and down the piano keyboard, I don’t think anyone will be able to keep their toes from tapping to this one! “Judge, Judge” (also known as “Send Me to the ‘Lectric Chair”) was written by George Brooks in 1927 and was made popular by Bessie Smith. Despite the seriousness of the title, this lively blues piece is pure fun and Winston plays it with attitude and panache! The slower and more subdued “A Change Is Gonna Come” was penned by Sam Cooke in 1963, and Winston arranged it as a soulful blues ballad that comes from the heart. Gershwin’s “Summertime” (1935) is one of my all-time favorite standards, and this is one of the darkest versions that I’ve heard - a standout. “Cancion Mixteca (Immigrant’s Lament)” by Jose Lopez Alavez dates back to 1915, but is obviously very pertinent to our own time. My favorite track on the album is “The Good Earth” by Jimmy Wisner (1962), a slow, heartfelt blues piece that really speaks to me. “For What It’s Worth” by Stephen Stills is a rock classic (1967) and even without the poetic lyrics, it packs a punch. The medley of “Muskrat Ramble” (Kid Ory, 1921), “I Feel Like I’m Fixin’ to Die Rag” (Country Joe McDonald, 1965), and “Stop the Bleeding” (George Winston) is a lively confection that will have all ten toes tapping! The last three tracks are more solemn. “The Times of Harvey Milk” by Mark Isham, the main theme from the 1984 documentary, is a gorgeous tribute to a man who was a hero to so many, and Winston’s arrangement is beautifully poignant. “The Unknown Soldier,” is from The Doors’ 1968 album, Waiting For the Sun. Big and dramatic with more than a touch of rock and roll, I think Jim Morrison would approve! “The Wayward Wind” is a country/folk classic from 1956, and Winston gives it a full blues treatment. I’m sure the lyrics from this song inspired the album’s title!

To celebrate the release of Restless Wind, George Winston has embarked on a concert tour that will take him all over the country. Dates and locations are listed at GeorgeWinston.com. The album is available everywhere!
May 2, 2019
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