How is pianist and new age guru George Winston marking the end of the millennium? By playing favorites, his and presumably ours.
Thus you'll not only find plenty of reflective solo piano music on "Plains," blanketing its wide open spaces like a soft snow, you'll hear an American fiddle tune ("Dubuque"), an Irish air ("Give Me Your Hand'), a country music hit (Garth Brooks's "The Dance"), a vintage pop standard ("Teach Me Tonight") and a contemporary one (Sarah McLachan's "Angel").
There are even a couple of Hawaiian slack key guitar pieces arranged for piano, plus a pair of solo guitar bonus tracks at the album's close. The latter are fine, shimmering examples of Winston's devotion to an extraordinary, if still little known, American art form.
The variety of material is certainly welcome, even if the thematic shifts aren't as pronounced as one would hope.
After all, Winston is still Winston, a pianist known for favoring sleepy tempos and for fashioning arrangements that iron out nearly all harmonic wrinkles.
The diverse melodies, though, contribute mightily to the album's appeal.
Punctuating the customary ballads full of arpeggiated runs, several pieces here offer listeners humming tunes rather than numbing effects.
Appearing Monday at Lisner Auditorium.
To hear a free Sound Bite from George WInston, call Post-Haste at 202/334-9000 and press 8105. (Prince William residents, call 690-4110.)