Performer at 4th Annual LA Music Awards
Coming at the absolute crest of Windham Hill’s artistic and financial success, this is arguably the album to recommend if you are only to have one Windham Hill album. And if you were relegated to some kind of special hypothetical hell that allowed only one Windham Hill album in your life, well, it would be a hell with a bit of mercy in it if this were indeed the one pressing to keep you company. It’s got it all: Hedges, Ackerman and de Grassi on the groundbreaking acoustic guitar end; George Winston’s Thanksgiving representing the holiday albums to come with its autumnal glow, and the ensemble performances of Shadowfax, Nightnoise (before they were Nightnoise), Scott Cossu, and Isham’s On the Threshold of Liberty.
The Windham Hill Annual samplers were a driving force in the label’s popularity. Ask anyone who was around at the time, and they’ll remember either George Winston, the Winter Solstice albums or the samplers. The samplers were frequently featured on the Billboard charts, far outselling the original albums in virtually every case. Each release has its own flavor. ’81 had a focussed purity on solo performances, ’82 adds contemplative complexity akin to chamber jazz. On this release, there’s an expansiveness and confidence in the composition and performances that for the first time brings the underlying joy to the surface.
The mastering here is by the legendary Bernie Grundman. Grundman was mastering engineer for A&M records for many years before staring his own studio in Hollywood in 1984. The BG mark in the runout grooves generally is as good a guarantee of quality as is Rudy Van Gelder’s RVG mark. Production is most frequently by Steven Miller, whose work clearly grew with the label – or possibly helped drive the growth of the label.