This solo piano concert featuring George Winston, taking place Friday, Oct. 4, at 8 p.m. at Smothers Theatre, Malibu, will feature selections from Winston's melodic piano recordings, as well as R&B piano, stride piano, and Vince Guaraldi's Peanuts pieces. Winston will also play some Hawaiian slack key guitar.
Winston grew up mainly in Montana and spent his later formative years in Mississippi and Florida. During this time his favorite music was instrumental rock and instrumental R&B, including Floyd Cramer, the Ventures, Booker T & the MGs, Jimmy Smith, and many more. Inspired by R&B, jazz, blues, and rock (especially the Doors), he began playing organ in 1967.
In 1971 he switched to the acoustic piano after hearing recordings from the 1920s and 1930s by the legendary stride pianists Thomas "Fats" Waller and Teddy Wilson. In addition to working on stride piano, he came up with his own style of melodic instrumental music on solo piano, called "folk piano."
Winston's latest solo piano release is Gulf Coast Blues & Impressions 2--A Louisiana Wetlands Benefit (2012). Since 1972 he has released 12 other solo piano albums: Ballads and Blues 1972 (1972); Autumn (1980); Winter into Spring (1982); December (1982); Summer (1991); Forest (1994); Linus & Lucy--The Music of Vince Guaraldi (1996), which includes "Cast Your Fate to the Wind" and pieces from the Peanuts TV specials; Plains (1999), which was inspired by Winston's Eastern Montana upbringing; Night Divides the Day--The Music of the Doors (2002); Montana--A Love Story (2004); Gulf Coast Blues & Impressions--A Hurricane Relief Benefit (2006); and Love Will Come--The Music of Vince Guaraldi, Vol. 2 (2010).
In 2001 Winston released Remembrance--A Memorial Benefit, a six-song CD of piano, guitar, and harmonica solos to benefit those affected by 9/11. He also worked with the late George Levenson of Informed Democracy on three projects: a solo guitar soundtrack for Sadako and the Thousand Paper Cranes and soundtracks of piano, guitar, and harmonica solos for Pumpkin Circle and Bread Comes to Life. In 1984 he did the solo piano soundtrack for the children's story The Velveteen Rabbit for Rabbit Ears Productions.
Winston is presently concentrating mainly on live performances, and most of the time he is touring and playing solo piano concerts, solo guitar concerts, solo harmonica concerts, and solo piano dances (with R&B and slow dance songs).
He is studying the playing of the great New Orleans pianists Henry Butler, James Booker, Professor Longhair, Dr. John, and Jon Cleary, and working on interpreting pieces on solo piano by his favorite composers, including Guaraldi, Professor Longhair, the Doors, Frank Zappa, Randy Newman, Sam Cooke, Curtis Mayfield, Laura Nyro, Al Kooper, Dr. John, Henry Butler, James Booker, Jon Cleary, Ralph Towner, Arthur Lee, Milt Jackson, John Hartford, Oliver Schroer, Taj Mahal (who performs at Pepperdine on October 6), Philip Aaberg, and others.
Additionally, Winston is working on solo guitar and recording the masters of Hawaiian slack key guitar (named for the beautiful solo finger-style guitar tradition unique to Hawaii) for an extensive series of albums for Dancing Cat Records. He is also recording his main inspirations for his harmonica playing: Sam Hinton, Rick Epping, and Curt Bouterse.
The audience is invited to join in support of a local food bank by bringing a donation of canned food to the concert. There will be collection baskets at the entrances.
For more information, visit the Center for the Arts Web site.