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Winter into Spring

George Winston • LP (8 tracks) • 1982

  • I have this in vinyl (first pressing c/o Windham Hill)
  • Album cover image c/o Spotify, which says ‘Special Edition’ (pls ignore)

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My ownership of this George Winston record is completely by happenstance. I looked for a record shop near where I live and found one that mostly sold old records (by that I mean preloved and of the ‘90s and farther back). The moment I stepped into the shop, I knew that to be true—the place was musty and almost each record I pulled out the crates were yellowing on the sides. My fingertips were gray by the end of the visit, and it was a great time to forget my pack of hand wipes!

My personal rule in when digging is to get only one I know I like for sure (which means a mental list is ready) and get a random record that falls within a certain price range. I found a good Steely Dan 2-record album in its original pressing, limited edition gold color, but skipped because it was out of my budget. Instead, I settled for a George Winston record in the sale bin (there were 3 others that were almost mindlessly shortlisted, to be fair), because his name sounded familiar (c/o the ‘New Age’ genre) and I was particularly drawn to the album cover with a pretty nondescript scene. I also knew that I needed a quiet album with piano solos, so the random pick felt like a low-risk purchase that would still satisfy a criteria that’s easy to meet.

I say I was stunned when I first listened to the record! As someone who also had a piano-class-after-school phase, I have a general (aka non-technical) idea of how it feels to play a certain way. Winter into Spring opens…minimally, with ‘January Stars’. With just a hand playing a few keys for a few bars, sounding stark and cool (cold?) against silence, the picture of winter is clear. For someone who’s from a tropical country, this shows me how snow fall can actually feel. The album closes with ‘The Venice Dreamer’, with its two parts beautifully building up to a celebratory opening of a new season, which never fails to make me smile.

Other noteworthy things
I googled Winston to see if he had any more recent work I could listen to, and found out that he died this year. His passing in 2023, along with other musicians I admire (Bobby Caldwell, Ryuichi Sakamoto), made my connection to his music even stronger. Probably strengthened my bias towards stronger preference, for sure, but I still would like to think there’s something magical to being drawn to such a seemingly random pick that ended up being so much more than a sale bin find.

This album reminded me of
  • ...how it is always a great thing to listen to albums from beginning to end. What a thrill it is to move along the flow of an album when each mindfully-composed song transitions to the next, and tells a solid narrative, whether overtly or not.
  • ...why I love concerts. To gather in a place where music is rendered physically by a soloist or a group and have your presence fully focus on this ceremony of sorts, is just…great (I have no words anymore 😅). And that being able to be there is truly a blessing.
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