By Phil Dzikiy
At this rate, George Winston reckons he’ll be back in Buffalo, by, oh, 2022. So if you want to see him perform live, Friday night’s your chance.
Winston is a solo instrumentalist, mostly known for his work as a pianist. He’s recorded more than a dozen solo piano albums. All Music Guide describes him as “among the earliest and most successful proponents of the genre of contemporary instrumental music later dubbed new age.” And though he hasn’t been in Buffalo since the late 1990s, he’s joking about the amount of time it might take him to make a return trip after his upcoming show at Buffalo State College’s Rockwell Hall.
“I’ve been (to Buffalo) eight or nine times over the years,” Winston said. “(It’s) always great to be back.”
But The City of Good Neighbors isn’t the only city on his mind recently. The plight of New Orleans still weighs on his conscience as The Big Easy fights back from some tough times. Winston’s most recent album, 2006’s “Gulf Coast Blues & Impressions: A Hurricane Relief Benefit,” offers proceeds to a few of the region’s organizations helping with the rebuilding effort after Hurricane Katrina.
“I just wanted to do something to help the coast of New Orleans, like everybody did,” Winston said. “The news from down there is ‘back in business,’ but there’s a lot of work to still be done. It will come back. It’s just going to take consistent work.”
As expected, the album is done in the jaunty New Orleans R&B; piano style. It features six original Winston compositions and a few covers, including a lengthy reworking of “When the Saints Go Marching In.” The first song on the album is titled “New Orleans Shall Rise Again.”
Winston works in three different styles of piano playing — the aforementioned New Orleans style, the jazzy stride piano style and the melodic style he calls “folk piano.”
Winston will touch upon all three of these styles during his performance, as his concerts show “just where I’m coming from musically right now.”
So though audiences can expect a mix of piano styles and songs, no one should expect anyone else to be on stage with Winston.
“Never,” Winston said of playing with accompaniment. He realized long ago that he was a solo performer. “Once in a great while, I might back up someone on a record. It’s not something I really enjoy.”
Even when performing guitar or harmonica concerts, which happen less frequently than his piano concerts, Winston works alone.
“It seems to fit,” he said. “Whatever I play, I play by myself.”
Winston’s next album should hit stores around Valentine’s Day, he said. In 1996, he tackled the music of one of his favorite composers on the album “Linus & Lucy: The Music of Vince Guaraldi.” He’ll revisit Guaraldi’s music on the upcoming “Love Will Come: The Music of Vince Guaraldi.”
“(It’s the) second and final volume I’m going to do of his pieces,” Winston said. “I love his compositions ... he had a particular language in his compositions.”
For Winston, part of the appeal in playing Guaraldi’s work involves the differences between the playing styles of the two men. Winston gets to bring R&B; flair to Guaraldi’s jazz style.
“I’ve tried to play every one of (Guaraldi’s) pieces over the years,” Winston said. The other composers to attract Winston so thoroughly are the great New Orleans pianist Professor Longhair and the Doors.
Guaraldi is known by many as the “Peanuts” composer, and Winston may play a few of those tunes at Friday’s show. After all, Winston has always placed an emphasis on seasons — his albums include “Autumn,” “December,” “Winter into Spring” and “Summer.”
“This will be the winter show,” Winston said of the upcoming performance.
At each of his concerts, Winston holds a canned food drive. Audience members are urged to bring cans of food to the show. Friday’s performance will benefit the Food Bank of Western New York.
IF YOU GO
WHAT: George Winston solo piano performance
WHEN: 8 p.m. Friday
WHERE: Performing Arts Center at Rockwell Hall, Buffalo State College, 1300 Elmwood Ave., Buffalo
MORE INFORMATION: Tickets start at $27 for non-students. Call 878-3005 or visit www.buffalostate.edu/pac/
By Phil Dzikiy
Hawkins doubles down with Do Good Assassins
Former Lowest of the Low frontman returns to WNY with new band, debut double CD
Baseball tune worthy of hall
As of this summer, the list of people in the Baseball Hall of Fame and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame will grow by one.
It will then total one.
But that one person is wholly deserving of the dual accolades.
Local music impresses
I wasn't the first choice to be a judge in the Hard Rock Cafe Battle of the Bands. But that didn't make the experience any less fun.
Bieber wows kids, but can his act mature with him?
Justin Bieber impresses teenagers, but can he keep their interest as they - and he - age?
TSO embarks upon holiday-free music tour
The Trans-Siberian Orchestra finally will get a chance to showcase its nonholiday fare during a spring tour.
NT-based jam band Aqueous looks to ride the wave to musical stardom
Speaking during a recent interview in the News office, the members of Aqueous discussed the difficulties in achieving musical stardom and the downfall of much of modern music.
NIGHT & DAY: Flaming Lips bringing oddball antics to Artpark
The Lips will bring what’s sure to be an odd-looking playlist — among the band’s songs are “Free Radicals (A Hallucination of the Christmas Skeleton Pleading with a Suicide Bomber)” and “Psychiatric Explorations of the Fetus with Needles” — to Lewiston this summer for a dynamic and lavish stage show to Artpark on July 22. Tickets for the concert go on sale Friday at 10 a.m.
- LIFESTYLE: TSO brings holiday magic back to Buffalo The Trans-Siberian Orchestra might have a name that implies chilly conditions, but the musical group has been red hot as of late.
- MUSIC: Best of the Decade No industry changed more this decade than the music industry.
- MUSIC: Solo pianist George Winston visits Buffalo At this rate, George Winston reckons he’ll be back in Buffalo, by, oh, 2022. So if you want to see him perform live, Friday night’s your chance.
- More Music Headlines
- Hawkins doubles down with Do Good Assassins