Winston pays tribute to Vince Guaraldi

Keyboardist George Winston might have made a New Age name for himself with zenlike 1980s efforts like “Autumn,” “December” and “Winter Into Spring.” But before that, he was moved by the compositions on the “Peanuts” TV specials — the work of the late Bay Area artist Vince Guaraldi, which he chronicled in his 1996 tribute “Linus & Lucy” and the new “Love Will Come — The Music of Vince Guaraldi Volume 2.” Winston, 61, will honor his inspiration with a solo piano show at Grace Cathedral, the site of Guaraldi’s landmark live album from 1965.

Are you happy that the dreaded New Age term has finally been retired? I have no clue about that. And I think it’s the wrong title anyway. I call it “folk-piano-melodic,” and I don’t think in those terms. So I can’t think of it in those terms, because that isn’t what I do. Like, if everybody calls me Jim, I’m not going to respond to that. So it’s just folk piano — it’s no big deal.

But in the ’80s and ’90s, practically everyone owned one of your albums. And probably experienced some sort of serenity through it, no? Or maybe boredom, too! I don’t know. But all I do is play what I play and try not to describe what it is. So you can call me a silly goose if you want. But just call me! And as far as genres go, my view is that each musician is their own genre, and that’s the only thing that’s really true about it. Like, if you say somebody’s “jazz,” you’re not telling me what they do. You’re telling me what they don’t do.  

Your music always managed to conjure up particular seasons, right? Well, that’s what I was trying to do — capture the topography, whatever the theme of the album was. And I am a big tree hugger.

Have you seen “Avatar” yet? No. And I have no interest in pop culture, no time for it. After Jim Morrison died, I said “I’ve had 10 years of pop culture, and that’s enough — I want to do something else now.” You’ve got to draw a line. So nobody has my cellphone number, nobody can call me, and I don’t text.
What did you love about Guaraldi’s work? Vince’s piano was like a singer that you really liked, like Diana Reeves or Ella Fitzgerald. And it wasn’t just his songs — his sound had the effect that a singer had.


George Winston

Where: Grace Cathedral, 1110 California St., San Francisco
When: 8 p.m. Friday
Tickets: $36
Contact: (415) 392-4400;

artsentertainmentGeorge WinstonOther ArtsVince Guaraldi

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