Gulf Coast Blues & Impressions: A Hurricane Relief Benefit

Gulf Coast Blues & Impressions: A Hurricane Relief Benefit

by George Winston
     
 
Pastoral piano man George Winston is more readily associated with the wide open-spaces of his childhood Montana than the hustle-bustle of New Orleans, but he's nursed an admiration for the Crescent City's professors for over two decades. Doing his part to raise funds for the relief effort in the Katrina-ravaged Gulf, Winston's turned to the music of some of his heroes

Overview

Pastoral piano man George Winston is more readily associated with the wide open-spaces of his childhood Montana than the hustle-bustle of New Orleans, but he's nursed an admiration for the Crescent City's professors for over two decades. Doing his part to raise funds for the relief effort in the Katrina-ravaged Gulf, Winston's turned to the music of some of his heroes, including Dr. John, Henry Butler, James Booker, and of course, Professor Longhair, to whom he's penned a reverent "Blues for Fess, Beloved." The album's titular blues and impressions are borne out in the track listing; he's frontloaded the disc with a jaunty original theme, followed by faithful runs at songs by the above-mentioned keysmen, each rich in stride and boogie-woogie style. "Stevenson," a meditative and unresolved fragment, ushers in the Winston more familiar to fans, and two "Gulf Coast Lullabies" suggest sleep only by their humane pacing -- rather, the feeling is of a gathering strength, evoking the first tiny steps back to life after the unspeakable disaster. In New Orleans, that's just when the band strikes up a gospel number like "When the Saints Go Marching In," and that's what Winston does, too. His version sprawls over nearly 12 minutes, from brooding, stormy chords to puckish, then defiant syncopation. A sun shower of high notes is just one of the dynamic shifts that marks this a true set piece. Another unexpected treat with which to bookend his seasonal albums (remember his Doors tribute?), Gulf Coast Blues & Impressions adds a new ditty to the George Winston songbook: heart and soul.

Editorial Reviews

All Music Guide - Thom Jurek
George Winston's benefit record for the Gulf Coast and New Orleans was issued a week after the first anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, and in the middle of hurricane season. He is donating all proceeds to various organizations around the region. Winston proves he can shake it on this set. He's not James Booker, whose "Pixie" he covers wonderfully here. Nor is he "Fess" (Professor Longhair), Dr. John (a cover of "Creole Moon" is on this set), or his friend Henry Butler -- whose crib in the Lower Ninth Ward got wiped out by Katrina. But he can play this music, and his own compositions are soulful, direct, and loaded with aural imagery from the Big Easy tradition. His read of "Creole Moon" may not possess the loose, joyous, funky butt swing of Dr. John's ballad, but it does contain plenty of soul; as an interpreter, Winston coaxes some of the more sophisticated compositional aspects of the tune out through the blues. Likewise, "Pixie" is a bit more formal than the fluid jump of Booker's version, but Winston gets the spirit across and kicks it into high stride blues. He composed his own extrapolation of the cut as well, called "Pixie #3 (Gôbajie)" (named after his cat). Apparently there will be a "Pixie #4 (Gôbajie)" on a future disc. The best of the covers is Butler's "The Breaks"; he nails it. His interpretation, while different, leans heavily on the left hand, but it's got the funk. His own short ballads and the brief "Stevenson" are lovely in their own way, relaxed and engaging simultaneously. "When the Saints Go Marching In" offers the single greatest testament to Winston's technical and emotional abilities, and he gives the tune an extended workout; it's nearly 12-minutes long. His middle-register playing is deep blues brined in stride-style boogie-woogie with a gorgeously long intro. The album closes with "Blues for Fess," a New Orleans elegy that comes whispering out of the gate and keeps its quiet dignity, even while caressing its blues. This is perhaps the most engaging Winston album ever, and one anyone who's ever been interested in him should own.

Product Details

Release Date:
09/05/2006
Label:
Rca Victor
UPC:
0828767516523
catalogNumber:
75165
Rank:
72923

Tracks

Album Credits

Customer Reviews

Average Review:

Write a Review

and post it to your social network

     

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

See all customer reviews >