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Jazz critics have savaged George Winston's lightweight New Age solo piano recordings, especially the late Martin Williams, who once told a woman whom he just met, "Give me fifteen minutes and I'll teach you to play piano as well as George Winston... and I don't play piano... Likewise, Winston's recordings of Vince Guaraldi's beloved compositions for the Peanuts cartoon specials were hampered by his inability to do much more than vamp once he had played the theme to each song.
But in addition to teaching himself Hawaiian slack key guitar, Winston has been studying early jazz piano with Morton specialist Huck Twohig for several years and has played a few of Morton's songs for friends at private parties. This CD was recorded at such an affair, with Winston also assuming the swaggering attitude of Jelly Roll Morton, even if he isn't as accomplished a pianist, composer or singer as the New Orleans legend.
Winston even takes a swipe at Martin Williams in his vocal version of "I Thought I Heard Buddy Bolden Say, substituting the late critic's name in the first verse: "I thought I heard Martin Williams say / You're dirty and you sure can't play. His unexpurgated vocal version of "Make Me a Pallet on the Floor, full of obscenities, just like Jelly Roll's transcriptions for Alan Lomax, adds a funny twist at the end, as he jokingly thanks his host by quoting Jelly Roll's frequent interview comment (in the Library of Congress recordings) to Lomax, "This whiskey is tremendous!
Classic jazz it isn't, but you have to give credit to George Winston for trying to expand his rather limited musical horizons.
Track Listing: Black Bottom Stomp; King Porter Stomp; Kansas City Stomp; Shreveport Stomp; Billy Goat
Stomp; Grandpaís Spells; Dead Man Blues; Wininí Boy Blues; Milenberg Joys; I Thought I Heard
Buddy Bolden Say; Dirty, Dirty, Dirty; Make Me a Pallet on the Floor.
Personnel: George Winston: piano; Huck Twohig: jazz piano coach, liner notes;
Edie Ott: producer.
Jazz is a continuing revelation. The best show I ever attended was the
Roots Picnic at Penn's Landing in Philadelphia, or was it Robert
Glasper's Experiment at Lincoln Center, or was it Chick Corea with
Brian Blade at Oberlin College? Most of all I enjoy playing guitar and
composing beats with my Brooklyn-based group Space Captain.