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A Winter Solstice Reunion
Various Artists
A Winter Solstice Reunion
Genres: Country, Folk, World Music, Jazz, Special Interest, New Age, Pop, Classical
  •  Track Listings (12) - Disc #1

You know this winter "reunion" is going to be a good one when Hawaiian slack-key guitar great Keola Beamer opens it with a stunning original, "Keiki's Dream." Reassembling the artists who defined the Windham Hill sound, Re...  more »


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You know this winter "reunion" is going to be a good one when Hawaiian slack-key guitar great Keola Beamer opens it with a stunning original, "Keiki's Dream." Reassembling the artists who defined the Windham Hill sound, Reunion features pianist Liz Story arranging the Spanish traditional "Babe Is Born" for solo piano, Windham vet Alex DeGrassi bringing his graceful acoustic guitar work to bear on "It Came Upon a Midnight Clear," and capo William Ackermann rolling out his trademark steel-string arpeggios on a pensive, minor-key original, "Impending Death of the Virgin Spirit." The man who put Windham Hill on the map, pianist George Winston, contributes a lovely reading of Alfred Burt's "What Are the Signs," and fretless bass wonder Michael Manring tickles the ivories as well as bass on a circumspect "Year's End." More about the symbolism of the winter season than the joy of Christmas, Reunion is classic Windham Hill, meditative and a bit melancholy. Also features Mike Marshall, Ben Verdery, Paul McCandless, and others. --James Rotondi

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CD Reviews

SUPERB, and ALMOST the best of the series
Christian Ellithorpe | Streamwood, IL United States | 02/21/2006
(4 out of 5 stars)

"Probably 4.5 stars; A SUPERB release, and an attempt to get back to as many of the original groundbreaking artists which made the Winter's Solstice series so endearing. Highlights: As ALWAYS, I look forward most to Ackerman and especially, Barbara Higbee's contributions to any of the Winter's Solstice CDs. Higbee in particular, always has the most surprising arrangments or original compositions, and this release is a perfect example. "Snowfall Lullaby" is one of the most touching lullaby melodies. (though it is by no means sleepy; simply comforting in a sort of "neo-celtic" way). There are Harps, violin & piano; you simply must hear it to know how fine it is, and to experience what I'm trying to describe in words. Ackermann normally tries to write something original, or which is not a traditionally well-known Christmas song, which was the overall attempt in the groundbreaking first two Winter's Solstice releases. Here he does a pensive remake of one of his classics "Impending Death Of The Virgin Spirit". Perhaps one might see it as a deep-reflection on Mary's depth of charcter and her impending suffering which will one day lead to the loss of her child. Darol Anger's "I saw Three Ships" is an quite original, if more familiar melody. It's an arrangement that is peaceful & lilting & not the usual "jig" we hear so often. There are so many others: "What are the Signs" by Winston is a perfect "10", "Year's End" by Manring, Paul McCandless's "20 Degrees Below" and Liz Story's "Babe Is Born/Enter The Stable Gently". While there are a couple uneven spots, by some less familiar artists, this is one of the essential releases of the series. My final recommendation is to buy the SECOND Winter's Solstice release first, which to me, has always been the pinnacle of originality & creative spirit, even exceeding the fine first release, and then also buy this release to see how original these collections can be, before venturing into some of the later ones, most of which are good, but which often feature traditional Christmas melodies rather than the more obscure carols & original compositions featured here. Overall, nearly a perfect release!"
Deceptive Title
Jerome N. Scott | Ft. Wright, KY United States | 12/29/2004
(4 out of 5 stars)

"I have been a fan of the Windham Hill label for many years...almost since its beginning. I prefer some collections to others, but,the Winter's Solstice series continues as a favorite. For sentimental reasons, I've always been fond of the original realase in the set and when I saw this one I thought that perhaps through some miracle or some heavy lifting on the label's part, it would be comprised of new pieces from the artists on AWS. But after a quick look I have to ask, In what way is this a "reunion?" OK, Liz Story and label founder Will Ackerman are present, but where's the rest of the class? Granted, one would be hard pressed to hear new material from Shadowfax, whose offering for AWS came from their work while on another label(pre-WH), but certainly others beside Story and Ackerman survive to this day. Not to worry, the material that is here is enjoyable as always, but, if you were nostalgic for the artists of the first release, a reunion this is not."