Tuesday, December 23, 2014

18 Dec 14 - George Winston

Eine kleine Nachtmusik, blogspot readers...

Before taking a much deserved break for the holidays, SouthSide spent the most wondrous evening basking amidst the melodious rhythms featured prominently in her favorite seasonal time of the year by an artist she has admired for a long time. Recently, this reviewer's fan girl geekness was in full force when she had the extreme opportunity to attend solo pianist George Winston's sold-out performance at Old Town School of Folk Music. And it wasn't just attending the performance that had her so excited, blogspot readers. She was privied to her own private mini concert with the maestro (during soundcheck) before performing in front of a packed house. She was able to sit and observe his fingering movements ...how he expressed the love and joy for the music he would be performing later for everyone. Though it was only soundcheck, listening to him warm-up before the show ...well, blogspot readers, it's difficult for this reviewer to describe. You simply had to be there in her shoes when observing the maestro practicing.
For SouthSide, that was definitely the highlight of her evening despite there were many others throughout the two-set performance in which George Winston featured classical to contemporary piano jazz compositions spotlighting a winter theme.

What made this particular performance truly special - George was donating 100% of all proceeds from his merch sales (from posters to CDs and DVDs of The Snowman) to Northwest Compass, Inc.'s food pantry. According to Program Specialist Rick Fecht, the food connection distributes (approximately) 1,000 pounds of food ...not a week or month but every single day to homeless and needy families who live in the Nortwest area of Cook County. Yet it doesn't matter where or which county you live because if you need food, Northwest Compass is there help provide immediate food support. Rick told Old Town School of Folk Music patrons examples of the people in which their donation would be helping like one person who traveled twenty-three miles for the food pantry ...or the time an affluent young man who was touched after meeting a homeless person who uses the food pantry on a daily basis. Northwest Compass not only provides food but also other services such as Hardship Intervention & Referral Program, Career Coaching, Child Assistance Program, Helping Hands Program, and so much more. For more information about Northwest Compass and its many programs, visit http://www.northwestcompass.org.

Performing only two seasonal piano compositions when he tours, George Winston graced the stage with a winter-theme performance, blogspot readers, which featured music by Vince Guaraldi, The Doors and Fats Waller as well as some of his original compositions like "Colors" and "Moon" (from his 1980 Autumn album) and "Carol Of The Bells" (from his 1982 December album). This performance also included a few moments of George performing on acoustic guitar (Leonard Kwan's "Sassy") and harmonica (featuring a selection from his 2012 Harmonica Solos album). Each musical composition held something more than just mere notes ...allegro or staccato tempos. It was music magic as each told a different tale of winter ...bursting to life with vivid picturesque images that immediately popped into the audience's heads, blogspot readers. All SouthSide had to do was simply close her eyes and she could (for example) picture the moon rise over a snowy horizon ...or feel like a kid again upon hearing the first set of notes to Vince Guaraldi's Charlie Brown's Thanksgiving theme and "Christmas Is Coming"/"Christmastime Is Here". Hidden within each note that George played, there was a sense of piano romanticism surrounding the entire venue from start to finish. 

Feeling the music was mind-blowing
In a nutshell, it's simply a breathtaking experience, blogspot readers.
For example, when George performed the popular Vince Guaradli classics "Christmas Is Coming"/"Christmastime Is Here", this reviewer not only felt excited like her younger self that the holiday was a week away but could now appreciate this artist's take on a very popular modern jazz composition since he would add his own spin here and there ...still keeping the original in tact. To say it left her in awe would be gross understatement, blogspot readers. She was mesmerized by the notes and rhythms even though already knowing them so well ...yet with George Winston at the keys, it was like rediscovering Vince Guaradli's music all over again. Or when he performed "Moon", SouthSide could feel the frosty winter nights coming to life amidst the haunting pale light of the moon glowing over the powdery-white snow. Or the moment when she was moved to tears when he played Larry Young's "The Cradle" that was dedicated to all Moms everywhere, blogspot readers. This particular piece's haunting melody was played with love ...like a mother cradling her child in her arms. There were also moments when George had you dancing in your seats for example when performing Fats Waller's "piano stride" (a style of music made very popular when jazz was new between the 20s and 40s) inspired piece simply titled "Dog and Cat" with the Dog part played on the left hand. This fun jazz piece had the audience immersed in the upbeat ragtime tempo meanwhile his "Carol Of The Bells (with a bit of Cloudburst)" had the auditorium sounding like Westminster Abbey and its bells ringing on Christmas morn.

If you're a fan of George Winston and his music, this reviewer highly recommends attending a live performance while he's currently on tour. Be warned - he changes his set list for each performance ...so what SouthSide has listed in this review may not be the same songs he performs at a venue near you.

For those new to George Winston and his music, she highly recommends checking out his Seasons collection as well as The Velveteen Rabbit and The Snowman to start. Then gravitate to his guitar compositions like Sadako and The Thousand Paper Cranes. 

To The Doors fans, SouthSide highly recommends check out George's Night Divides the Day album which includes his piano renditions of Riders On The Storm (wow - it will blow you away) and The Crystal Ship ...you definitely haven't lived until you hear him turn The Lizard King into haunting piano/rock compositions, blogspot readers.

For more information about George Winston and his music, visit http://www.georgewinston.com.

Until next time, support your local scene,

No comments:

Post a Comment

Thank you for your feedback - SouthSide