Three captivating artists who rose to fame recording for the Windham Hill label come together to celebrate the holiday season.
The Windham Hill “new age” image doesn’t do justice to the passionate singer, pianist, fiddler and guitarist Barbara Higbie, whom writer Derk Richardson described as “a jazz pianist who can write and sing like Laura Nyro and Carol King, a prize-winning folk fiddler who will interpret a John Coltrane tune through a French vocal.” Higbie, whose musical associates have included Bonnie Raitt, Bobby McFerrin and Carlos Santana, put together this Winter Solstice ensemble with GRAMMY-nominated pianist Liz Story and the guitar playing Windham Hill label founder, Will Ackerman.
Story’s original compositions draw on influences as various as Claude Debussy, Scott Joplin, Joni Mitchell, and Bill Evans, whose performance at New York’s Village Gate Story cites as a life-changing experience. She has recorded a dozen albums and has been a regular contributor to Windham Hill’s Winter Solstice releases.
Ackerman is a gifted Bay Area-raised guitarist whose self-produced 1976 debut record was successful enough for him to start his own label, and the rest, as they say, is history. Of this show, Higbie says “It’s a show made for people who want to celebrate the season in their own unique way.”
A native of California, Liz Story began her musical training as a young child, mastering Mozart’s Piano Concerto No. 11 by the age of 11. When her family moved to Germany during her teens, she added languages, philosophy, and poetry to her studies. On her return to the United States, she continued her piano studies at the Juilliard School of Music and Hunter College. Later, after moving back to Southern California, she studied at the Dick Grove Music Workshops in Studio City. During her studies, she took a job playing piano in a restaurant and was thrust suddenly into improvisations when the piano had no musical strand. Over several months these improvisations developed into compositions. When Windham Hill’s Will Ackerman heard a tape of these, he signed her to record her debut album, Solid Colors. Liz Story has been an artist of great stature through the years of Windham Hill into the present times. Her brilliant stories and humor on stage contrasted with her deep and profoundly beautiful work on the piano keep audiences enthralled until the very last note.
Grammy-nominated Barbara Higbie is another classic artist from the Windham Hill label who combines elements of jazz, folk, classical, African, Brazilian and Celtic music to create unique compositions that are lyrical, rhythmically playful and harmonically inventive. Barbara is a multi-instrumentalist, singer-songwriter and championship fiddle player as well as a pianist and composer. She is known for her work as co-founder of the acoustic super-group Montreux. Higbie is a high priestess of collaboration. She has played with musicians as different as Bonnie Raitt, Kronos Quartet, Milton Nascimento and Spyro Gyra, and has performed on more than 65 albums. Perhaps Higbie’s greatest gift is not just her knowledge about musical genres, but her view that live performance “is really a devotional form. Live music can heal you physically, mentally and spiritually.” Her energy and humor onstage delights audiences from every walk of life.
Universally recognized as the preeminent pioneer in the new age music movement, and the founder of Windham Hill Records, Will Ackerman’s career spans more than three decades of remarkable vision, single-minded determination, fervent business savvy, and “a thorough love of the mystery of making music.” The glory years at Windham Hill with Ackerman at the helm launched the recording careers of an abundant list of acoustic instrumentalists, many of whom became household names. The primary influence Windham Hill cast on contemporary music over the last three decades of the 20th century emanated from folk roots, the acoustic guitar, and the piano. This legacy remains with Ackerman in a uniquely prolific and peerless career.
Todd Boston is a guitarist/multi instrumentalist that defies what is possible for one musician. He produces an organic and mesmerizing sound marrying together his love of music, nature and technology. TB fuses advanced finger style guitar techniques, wood flute, percussion and instruments of the world together with live looping and computer technology.
Liz Story: Piano
Barbara Higbie – Violin, Vocal, Piano, Guitar
Will Ackerman – Guitar
Todd Boston – Guitar, Flute, Percussion