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George Winston RIP


April 13, 2024

Gosh, there is so much death happening. This morning I was looking for some comforting music and came across that George Winston passed away last year. ☹️

I became aware of his music while I was in business school. His album, December, was on constant play in my head as it provided me some peacefulness that I so badly needed.

Through the years I have turned to December and other of his albums for that calm that he provided through his music. When Courtney started taking piano lessons, I took her to see Mr. Winston at the Kennedy Center. We had seats that were close enough that we could watch his fingers dance across the keys. I still remember how mesmerized I was by their movement -- they truly did dance. I may have seen him one other time in New York in the 1980s -- those memories have faded.

Over the years, I would check his concert schedule, but he was never where I was. I do remember how he would play small towns and small venues and thinking what a shame that he wasn't playing the world's great concert halls because that's how good he was. Perhaps he was more comfortable in those small venues in his standard attire of blue jeans, flannel shirt and socks.

During the pandemic he played several online concerts that were so soothing.

He had a love of stride piano which I thought was fund given how mellow much of his music was.

And if you like me don't know the difference between boogie woogie piano and stride piano, I found this description of each.

Boogie Woogie is something I’ve always correlated with the Blues, mainly because it is typically based on the same chord progression (I – IV – V – I). Boogie is mostly defined by its left hand, which carries the rhythm with varying patterns and feels. When giving programs that are intended to provide more information on the background of these styles of music, I often say, “Take a 12-bar blues, speed it up, add a funky baseline, and you have Boogie Woogie.” Of course that’s an over-simplification, but it typically gets the basic point across. 

Stride Piano. Wikipedia defines stride as, “a jazz piano style that was developed in the large cities of the US East Coast, mainly New York City, during the 1920s and 1930s. The left hand characteristically plays a four-beat pulse with a single bass note, octave, seventh or tenth interval on the first and third beats, and a chord on the second and fourth beats. Occasionally this pattern is reversed by placing the chord on the downbeat and bass note(s) on the upbeat. Unlike performers of the ragtime popularized by Scott Joplin and unlike much early jazz, stride players’ left hands often leapt greater distances on the keyboard, and they played in a wider range of tempos and with a greater emphasis on improvisation.”

Helpful? In my simple mind, boogie woogie is very uptempo and bluesy. Stride is more refined and jazzy.

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