New feature documentary on Windham Hill Records now funding on Kickstarter

A QUIET REVOLUTION: The Story of Windham Hill Records

Filmmaker Tal Skloot has recently announced a campaign to fund the completion of a feature documentary on the history, achievements, and groundbreaking sounds of Windham Hill Records. Will Ackerman, Barbara Higbie, Michael Manring, Mike Marshall, Alex De Grassi and many others are participating and are interviewed on camera. The award-winning filmmaker has produced over 25 documentaries. He knows and loves the music and personalities who made it.

If funded, the film will be available for streaming, download, and DVD. Additionally, funders can select posters and t-shirts, as well as special experiences like a visit to Will Ackerman’s Imaginary Road Studios, sessions with Alex De Grassi, a song by Phil Aaberg, and more.

Click through to the Kickstarter campaign, to help fund the completion of the film and select rewards:

Valley Entertainment to posthumously release new music from George Winston

“Eastern Montana”, the first in a series of posthumous releases from acclaimed solo pianist George Winston, was inspired by the surroundings of his childhood growing up in Miles City and Billings during the 1950s. 

The single Dusk at the Fork in the Road is out today, with the full album scheduled for release on August 30, 2024.

Stream, pre-order the CD, or pre-save here:

George Winston (December 26, 1949–June 4, 2023)

It is with great sadness that I must report on the passing of pianist, composer, producer and philanthropist George Winston. His Facebook page was updated today to report his passing with the following message:

We are deeply saddened to share the news that George Winston has passed away after a 10-year battle with cancer. George quietly and painlessly left this world while asleep on Sunday, June 4, 2023. George courageously managed serious cancers, including having a successful bone marrow transplant for Myelodysplastic Syndrome (MDS) in 2013 at City of Hope, in Duarte, California, that gratefully extended his life by 10 years. Throughout his cancer treatments, George continued to write and record new music, and he stayed true to his greatest passion: performing for live audiences while raising funds for Feeding America to help fight the national hunger crisis along with donating proceeds from each of his concerts to local food banks.

Across an illustrious career spanning more than 50 years, George’s music first became known and loved by his fans with the release of his two most iconic albums, Autumn (1980) and December (1982). George’s recordings evolved with the times while garnering a GRAMMY Award for Forest (plus five GRAMMY nominations) and selling over 15 million albums. George touched the hearts of generations with his acclaimed solo acoustic piano compositions. From his early days in Montana, Mississippi and Florida, to his later life living in the San Francisco Bay Area and touring to cities worldwide, America’s beautiful landscapes and natural seasons shaped his singular instrumental folk piano. With 16 solo piano albums to his name, George recorded brilliant piano music, which includes tribute recordings for Vince Guaraldi, The Doors, a Hurricane Katrina relief benefit, Gulf Coast and Louisiana Wetlands benefits, September 11 benefit, a cancer research benefit for City of Hope, the Peanuts episode “This Is America Charlie Brown: The Birth Of The Constitution,” among others.

George’s legacy includes his beloved catalog as well as an archive of his own acoustic guitar and harmonica recordings, and albums by an array of Hawaiian slack key artists on his own record label, Dancing Cat Records. George is pre-deceased by his parents, George and Mary Winston, and is survived by his sister, niece and nephew.

The family of George Winston will hold a private memorial service. For donations in memory of George Winston, please visit: 

Feeding America:

City Of Hope Cancer Center:

Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center:

Brothers:the Best Record of the last 10 years

Review by Colin Glassey

Brothers by Will Ackerman Jeff Oster Tom Eaton
Brothers by Will Ackerman Jeff Oster Tom Eaton

Brothers – Will Ackerman, Jeff Oster, and Tom Eaton. Featuring: Will Ackerman (guitars), Jeff Oster (flugelhorn and trumpet), and Tom Eaton (piano, electric keyboards, bass, percussion). Released in the fall of 2021.

A review by Colin Glassey – March, 4, 2022.

As soon as I heard this record, I knew I was listening to something special, but now, after four months of careful listening, I’m convinced this is not just good, not just great, but a pinnacle of musical expression.

These three artists have managed to express – in music – feelings which I have never felt before. Listening to the music I feel a strange mix of sadness, longing, anticipation, and hope. In my opinion, the reason why this music is without parallel is because it is an honest and deeply felt expression of the emotions many of us felt as the pandemic swept over the world.

The pandemic of 2020 to 2022 is a unique event in world history, nothing like it had ever happened before. Oster, Eaton and Ackerman, have done something no one has ever done before, they have put in music some of the feelings of that strange time.

I cannot say if this was intentional on their part, but I can say these three men are true artists and this music is from the heart. I mean that it is heartfelt in the most sincere way. This music has pain and sorrow within it. I do not argue the music is sorrowful, as it is expressing very complex feelings, not just sorrow but also a bit of joy, and a fair measure of happiness, which comes through in the delightful way the three work together to create this deeply moving music.

Let me now talk about the music as music. The centerpiece here is Jeff Oster’s flugelhorn. He has perfected a style of playing on this record where his notes seem to appear out of nothing. His notes are pure breath, they swell up and then they go away, like the sound of a breeze through the forest. I’ve never heard anyone play a horn instrument quite like this, though I’ve heard Steve Roach play synthesizers with a similar type of undetectable attack, where a note builds up out of silence and you can’t be quite sure when the note began or when it ends. Oster’s playing forms the emotional core of this music and I am in awe of his achievement here.

William Ackerman has been a pivotal figure in the genre of New Age Music, since he first started Windham Hill records back in 1976. I first heard Will Ackerman perform in the winter of 1979-80 and I have been a fan ever since (more than 40 years). I’ve seen Will in many concerts and I own essentially all his records. I think the six records Will recorded from 1977 to 1988 are works of musical genius and essential for every library. On this record, Will’s guitar acts as a counterpoint to Oster’s flugelhorn, sonically and emotionally. Ackerman as a master at playing a small repeated pattern of notes with great sensitivity and expressiveness. In his youth, he played these patterns of notes alone, but he soon found that his songs worked a bit better in conjunction with another instrument. On this record, Ackerman’s guitar figures are usually in the background, adding rhythmic stability and a feeling of anticipation.

Finally we have Tom Eaton, whose piano is usually adding small phrases to match Oster’s horn lines. On two of the pieces near the end of the record, Eaton plays a bass alongside Oster’s horn, adding a darker quality to the tonality of the music. Eaton also adds some very light touches of synthesizer to the songs and he gets the credit for recording, arranging, and mixing the music. Given that this record is a masterpiece, Tom Eaton’s contribution is worthy of the highest praise. Great job, Mr. Eaton!

I think all of the songs from this record can be found on YouTube – Jeff Oster created many videos for the songs using interesting photos and phrases. I will link to one here, but I humbly urge everyone to buy this record. Great artistry like this deserves to be financially rewarded. Do not stream music, buy CDs!

I close with this: In the future, when someone asks me What was it like to live through the Global Pandemic of 2020? I will say: Listen to the record Brothers, it will tell you what that time felt like.

About the author: Colin Glassey first started listening to Windham Hill records in the fall of 1979. Working as a DJ at KDVS radio station, he always played selections by Windham Hill artists in his weekly radio show. He attended many concerts by Windham Hill artists over the years, including William Ackerman, George Winston, and Michael Hedges performing at the Great American Music Hall in 1981. In 1995 he created one of the first webpages devoted to Windham Hill records at the (now defunct) website (Wayback link here).

William Ackerman – Positano Songs available for pre-order

William Ackerman – Positano Songs

Arriving March 4, 2022 is a new album, Positano Songs from William Ackerman, the guitarist, producer and founder of Windham Hill records. So much Ackerman-produced music exists to evoke a place, whether that be the Montana countryside or a trip to Philadelphia, grounding music in a place evokes both nostalgia and a timelessness that is hard to resist, and has been an important component in developing Ackerman’s and Windham Hill’s ardent fan base.

Will’s music is most closely associated with New England and northern California where he lived and founded his label. But it’s clear that Positano, Italy is a place as close to his heart as any. The album is filled with love songs to the people and places in the town where he has spent so much time, made lifelong friends and married his bride.

Early fans often think of Ackerman as a solo artist because of the distinctive voice of his albums, but since Passage each of his albums has featured important collaborations. But of course the impulse to work with others has been clear from the beginning as a producer and more recently as a member of FLOW (with Fiona Joy, Lawrence Blatt and Jeff Oster) and the Grammy-nominated Brothers (with Jeff Oster and Tom Eaton). Indeed, this is the first new album of original songs since 2011’s New England Roads. On Positano Songs, only the opening track Nighttime in the Chapel is a solo piece. Ackerman’s compositions are sensitively supported and in conversation with some of his closest collaborators over the decades: Charlie Bisharat, violin; Noah Wilding, voice; Jeff Oster, Flugelhorn; Eugene Friesen, cello; Tom Eaton, piano and bass.

The sample songs (which vary between Apple Music and Bandcamp) reveal a man who sounds relaxed and at peace while still contemplative. Fans of both his quietly tense work like “Impending Death of the Virgin Spirit” and gentler songs performed with FLOW will find every note feels like home, or at least home away from home, especially if that home is our own Positano.

Positano Songs is scheduled for release on March 4, 2022, and will be available on Bandcamp, Apple Music and Amazon. You can find all current sources here:

March 4th, 2022 is the official release date and it will be available on all major streaming platforms.

A vinyl issue is scheduled for sometime in 2022, at a date yet to be announced.  

Will Ackerman-produced The Gathering music samplers are the closest you’ll get to new Windham Hill Music

New Bandcamp page from Will Ackerman lets you buy The Gathering samplers and selected Ackerman albums

For many years, Will Ackerman and Tom Eaton have been producing new music at Imaginary Road Studios. The output is huge and varied, but will feel familiar to fans of Windham Hill Records and Narada, but with fresh names, faces and compositions. Inspired by his own classic Windham Hill samplers, Ackerman has been releasing samplers from Imaginary Road under the name “The Gathering,” and the compilation downloads and CDs will introduce you to new artists and new worlds of music.

The Gathering CDs have been tough to come by recently, but now a new online Bandcamp shop makes all four compilations easy to sample and purchase on CD.

With artists like Masako, Jeff Oster, FLOW, Fiona Joy Hawkins, Kathryn Kaye, Todd Boston, Lawrence Blatt, and of course Ackerman himself, you’re sure to discover favorite new artists, and of course enjoy the sampler on its own merits as a walk through contemporary instrumental music.

From Ackerman: “Finally, my store is up and running! I am excited about it for a lot of reasons, but particularly I wanted to let you all know about THE GATHERING CDs. When I owned Windham Hill Records I created collections that I called “ Windham Hill Samplers.” These featured one piece off of every record we released within a year so that people could get acquainted with a group of brilliant new musicians. Likewise, THE GATHERING albums offer the music of a new generation of musicians I have produced. I am sure you will love being introduced to many of these brilliant new musicians. I also have a few of my own albums at the store now and there will be more released soon.

The Gathering CD Imaginary Road Studios

Emil Richards, percussionist whose work enriched Shadowfax recordings and countless film scores, passes away at 87

Windham Hill fans will know Emil Richards from his work with Shadowfax on their early albums on the label, especially the self-titled label debut Shadowfax and the follow up Shadowdance. But Richards’ work has contributed to many of the classic film scores and albums coming out of Los Angeles for the last 50 plus years.

Shadowfax guitarist GE Stinson remembered him in a Facebook post, “Emil Richards brought a magical universe of percussion and sounds to the first album Shadowfax recorded for Windham Hill. We were blessed to have Emil play on many of our recordings. His performances were master classes in how to play in an ensemble setting adding a singular voice while serving the music.”

Richards expansive careers covers everything from the finger snaps of The Addams Family theme and xylophone on The Simpson’s intro through an expansive array of film music and, both solo and as part of The Wrecking Crew, much of the best music to come out of LA. In his obituary, The Hollywood Reporter summarizes a portion of his work “There are warm recollections of the great film composers, including Henry Mancini, Alex North, Jerry Goldsmith and John Williams, who all collaborated at finding a unique sound at Richards’ warehouse before composing. Salad bowls used in “Planet Of The Apes,” gongs lowered into fluid for space movies and many other unusual sonic effects will flash readers back to decades of favorite movies.”

Emil Richards published an autobiography Wonderful World of Percussion: My Life Behind Bars There are warm recollections of the great film composers, including Henry Mancini, Alex North, Jerry Goldsmith and John Williams, who all collaborated at finding a unique sound at Richards’ warehouse before composing. Salad bowls used in “Planet Of The Apes,” gongs lowered into fluid for space movies and many other unusual sonic effects will flash readers back to decades of favorite movies.

In her book “A Pause in the Rain,” Joy Greenberg recounts the making of the song Shadowdance, “Emil Richards had filled up the whole room at Group IV Sound with his esoteric collection of instruments from around the world, and the result was astounding. “Shadowdance” became a consistently sought tune by filmmakers, TV and radio shows for background music. After more than a decade, it is still being used by the Monterey Bay Aquarium for what I call its “dancing plankton” exhibit.

George Winston Autumn 2019 Tour Dates

George Winston is touring North America on the heels of the May release of his new album Restless Wind. Washington, Colorado, Indiana, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia, New York and Michigan will all see him bring his show to intimate theaters before the end of the year. George has toured fairly continuously over the years and his live shows are a joy for any fan: the ability to hear classics like Colors/Dance conjured up right in front of you is a treat that shouldn’t be missed.

See full tour dates here:

For a taste of George in concert, see his 2013 show in California’s Lesher Center.

Shadowfax Watercourse Way Reissued

New Dual SHM CD Edition from Japan’s Belle Antique Records

2019 sees a new CD release of Shadowfax’s Watercourse Way. The Japanese label Belle Antique includes both the original Passport Records edition, and the remastered Windham Hill edition, including original artwork replicas. The CDs can be found at CD Japan.

This comes after just months after the label released “Live at the Wise Fool’s Club” a double live CD recorded in 1978.

Liz Story needs your help.

Liz Story

EDIT: Since this was published, Liz seems to be recovering, and is appreciative for all of those who donated to her medical expenses and sent warm thoughts. I will leave the post up, but delete the donation links as they have closed.

If you’ve ever loved Liz’s music, now is the time to come through for her.

“Pianist/composer, three-time Grammy nominee, LIZ STORY, (Windham Hill recording artist) is undergoing emergency brain surgery.

She was diagnosed with bilateral subdural hematomas which are putting so much pressure on her brain, that, once on stage, she could not remember how to play the piano at a performance Friday night at the MIM (Musical Instrument Museum) in Phoenix, AZ.”

Like many artists, she has no health insurance and has spent years caring for others.

My dear friend, pianist/composer, three-time Grammy nominee, LIZ STORY, (Windham Hill recording artist) is undergoing emergency brain surgery this morning after being diagnosed with bilateral subdural hematomas which are putting so much pressure on her brain, that, once on stage, she could not remember how to play the piano at a performance Friday night at the MIM (Musical Instrument Museum) in Phoenix, AZ. Rest assured exceptional neurosurgeons are doing all they can to help Liz and we remain hopeful of a positive outcome.

Liz’s husband died due to complications from injuries he sustained after being struck in a rear-end collision.

Liz then selflessly left her home and music studio in Prescott, AZ for 6 years, to single-handedly care for her parents in Los Angeles, both of whom suffered from dementia, and who passed in their late 90s. Liz has never financially recovered from the loss of her husband and subsequent debt, and from her absence from her work, in order to care for her parents. She really could use all the help she could possibly have! Hopefully, she’ll be able to use a debt payoff planner to help her with sorting through her debts and keeping on top of them.

As is true for many musicians, she has no health insurance; and, her home became severely run down in her absence; she hasn’t been in a position, financially, to repair the plumbing, broken refrigerator and various other major problems so there are multiple ways in which you can donate to her fundraisers on the likes of GoFundMe as well as other platforms. She paid a contractor thousands to work on her house while she was in Los Angeles caring for her parents, only to find shoddy, sub-standard work when she returned.

If you can find it in your hearts to help, no donation is too great, or too small.
Thank you for taking the time to read this, and for your generosity.