George Winston grew up mainly in Montana and also 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 MG's, Jimmy Smith, and many more. Inspired by R&B, jazz, blues, and rock (especially the Doors), George began playing the organ in 1967. In 1971 he switched to the acoustic piano after hearing recordings from the 1920s and the 1930s by the legendary stride pianists Thomas "Fats" Waller and the late Teddy Wilson. In addition to working on stride piano, he also at this time came up with this own style of melodic instrumental music on solo piano, called folk piano. In 1972, he recorded his first solo piano album, BALLADS AND BLUES 1972, for the late guitarist John Fahey's Takoma label.
Since 1980 George has released ten other solo piano albums: AUTUMN (1980), WINTER INTO SPRING (1982), DECEMBER (1982), SUMMER (1991), FOREST (1994), LINUS & LUCY - THE MUSIC OF VINCE GUARALDI (1996), which features compositions by the late jazz pianist, including Cast Your Fate to the Wind and pieces from the Peanuts' TV specials; PLAINS (1999), which was inspired by his Eastern Montana upbringing, NIGHT DIVIDES THE DAY - THE MUSIC OF THE DOORS (2002), and MONTANA - A LOVE STORY (2004) and GULF COAST BLUES & IMPRESSIONS - A HURRICANE RELIEF BENEFIT (2006).
Also, in 2001 George released REMEMBRANCE - A MEMORIAL BENEFIT, a six-song CD of piano, guitar and harmonica solos, to benefit those affected by 9/11. He has 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 also did the solo piano soundtrack for the children's story THE VELVETEEN RABBIT for Rabbit Ears Productions.
His solo piano release LOVE WILL COME - THE MUSIC OF VINCE GUARALDI, VOL. 2 (released 2/2/10), features compositions by the late jazz pianist, including pieces from the Peanuts' TV specials. His album SPRING CAROUSEL-A CANCER RESEARCH BENEFIT was released in 2016.
Celebrated pianist George Winston released his 15th solo piano album, Restless Wind, via Dancing Cat Records/RCA Records on May 3, 2019.
By virtue of his brilliance as one of the foremost instrumental composers of our time, Restless Wind presents a stunning journey documenting George Winston’s sociological observations in American history. Winston repurposes for the modern listener stunningly relevant works by musical greats such as Sam Cooke, The Doors, Stephen Stills, George &; Ira Gershwin, Country Joe McDonald, and others. Restless Wind captures Winston’s inimitable melodic language where piano textures and tones set the stage for vivid renderings of classic compositions.
Winston says, “Ultimately, the main reason these 11 songs were chosen was how as instrumental pieces they worked well with each other in this sequence, the same way I have worked for all the albums I’ve recorded.”
George Winston is undeniably a household name. He’s inspired fans and musicians alike with his singular solo acoustic piano songs for more than 40 years while selling 15 million albums. A tireless road warrior playing nearly 100 concerts annually, live performance for Winston is akin to breathing. Winston’s music is evocative, offering us all a chance to take a step back from our perpetually busy lives and let our minds adventurously wander. Restless Wind is a portrayal of Winston’s place in a chaotic world – his compositions extend solace with an idiosyncratic grace.
Reflective of Winston’s catalogue of famed albums, Restless Wind is the next chapter for the pianist’s ambitious recordings. Winston’s latest song collection exhibits his masterful artistry of adapting ensemble arrangements to solo piano with magnificent results. Winston features 10 renditions of culturally potent compositions while opening the album with a new original song “Autumn Wind (Pixie #11).”