George Winston Day

February 11, 1949 – June 4, 2023

A tribute to the New Age pianist

Pianist George Winston passed away on June 4, 2023, at the age of 74.

He was born on Feb. 11, 1940, in Hart, Michigan, spending parts of his childhood in Montana, Mississippi, and Florida.

Winston started playing piano as a child and was particularly fond of Vince Guaraldi’s playing. He later also developed an appreciation for stride and New Orleans R&B pianists.

Winston made his recording debut in 1972, but it was not until his 1980 recording “Autumn” that he gained significant recognition.

As a pacesetter in New Age music (although he never liked the term “New Age”), Winston’s quietly melodic style of playing the piano became highly popular in the 1980s and ’90s. Albums like “Autumn,” “Winter Into Spring,” and “December” were all bestsellers.

While not strictly jazz, although sometimes associated with it, Winston’s main New Age style largely maintained a thoughtful mood and stayed close to the melody. His music was often used as background music and for meditation.

Winston also recorded in other styles, including two albums of Vince Guaraldi’s Peanuts music, as well as some New Orleans R&B and stride. He also showcased his skills on harmonica and guitar. However, he will always be best remembered for his pioneering work in New Age music.

Here is George Winston playing a medley of Vince Guaraldi’s “Linus & Lucy” and “You’re In Love Charlie Brown.”

– Scott Yanow


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