The Piano, originally named Pianoforte due to it’s ability to be played softly piano, or loudly forte, was first built in 1698 by Bartolomeo Christofori, in Italy. It’s made up of 7,500 working parts, all synchronizing together to create the beautiful sounds that you hear on this record. The piano is actually considered a percussion instrument due to it’s functionality. When a key is pressed it triggers a hammer to strike a set of strings, creating a vibration that is picked up by the ear as sound – or a note. The piano has been named the ‘king of the instruments’ due to it’s ability to produce the fullest spectrum range of sounds of any instrument. But the piano alone is not what fascinates me; it’s musicians such as George Winston, who play the keys and create the sounds that become near and dear to our hearts.
(Bartolomeo Christofori’s original Pianoforte)
Autumn was recorded in Menlo Park, CA in June of 1980. The year 1980 was known for a lot of great music – and this is no exception – but a piano solo album in the midst of top hit records such as Another One Bites the Dust by Queen, Hit Me With Your Best Shot by Pat Benatar, and Could You Be Loved by Bob Marley & The Wailers? That’s why it’s a gem! A diamond in the rough as they say. Although it didn’t get totally overlooked because 7 years later, in 1987, the album was certified platinum and #12 on the Billboard Top 100 Jazz Albums list. So, if you were in that circle and listening to this type of music at the time, you would have know about Autumn.
This record is special to me because of the way it makes me feel. Ever since I can remember I have always had a certain fascination towards the piano. It’s always had the ability to shut me up – which I need at times – and bring me to a calm and peaceful place. Autumn has been one of those pieces of music recently that I come back to again and again. It’s been my morning coffee. My meditation. My ‘me time’. Many mornings when I have the privilege to slowly vamp into my day – taking my time to wake up, be clear headed, and be at peace with the things in my life – I will throw this record on. It’s really been medicine for me; as I don’t yet have a practice of meditating regularly, or doing yoga, or anything of that nature. So, this my version of all of that.
What I love most about this is the imperfections in the vinyl as the needle cracks and pops across the threads of the record. I love the warmth from the piano sounds being magnetized on tape, then being played back with tiny bits of dust and debris in the grooves. The imperfections in it are what make it beautiful, just like us.
As a piano player myself, I marvel at what George Winston is able to do on 88 keys with only 10 fingers. It’s inspiring, yet un-motivating at times, knowing I may never be able to play that good! So I just submit and enjoy the music.
I hope you enjoy this piece and this weeks For The Record: Side 2.
Until next week,
Artist: George Winston
Songs featured (in order):
Cover Photography: Ron May
Engineered by: Harn Soper and Russel Bond (Stars)
Mastered: Erik Wolf at LRS
Windham Hill Records 1980