1. Joy To the World - Steve Erquiaga
2. Angels We Have Heard On High - Alex de Grassi
3. Circle of Joy - Lisa Lynne
4. Patapan - Barbara Higbie
5. Greensleeves - Steve Erquiaga
6. Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas - Liz Story
7. Compleat Nutcracker Sweet, The - Philip Aaberg
8. December Morning - Jim Brickman
9. Dove's Return, The - Aine Minogue
10. Salve Regina - Theresa Schroeder-Sheker
At one time, Windham Hill was The
quintessential New Age label. Founded in 1976 by folk guitarist Will Ackerman, ostensibly as a vehicle for his own music, Windham Hill just happened to be in the right place at the right time and, with their attention to sound quality, recording techniques and quality vinyl pressings, the label rode a wave they did not begin to become the dominant label within the genre. The New Age movement, itself, is actually quite old--dating back at least to 1809 when William Blake coined the term. As a musical genre, New Age origins are far fresher--dating back to the early 70s, which saw both the early development of synthesizers and a trend towards ambient jazz, exemplified by artists such as Paul Winter and Brian Eno. Perhaps it was the merging of jazz and folk that propelled Windham Hill to the heights they achieved, but, regardless, achieve them they did. George Winston's "December"
is still considered both a classic holiday album and a classic of the New Age genre.
The market briefly flooded with New Age releases until the wave eventually receded from dominance. There's still plenty of New Age music being made, of course, but Windham Hill no longer records music. Their catalog was purchased by Sony. And Sony just keeps finding new ways of combining and packaging the music within the rich Windham Hill catalog. So you'll find nothing new, here. And yet, there is still something quite satisfying about a Windham Hill collection. They may not have invented the genre but, for my money, nobody does it better. Clear and crisp as a winter's morning.