Windham Hill Winter Solstice Concert

Windham Hill Winter Solstice Concert

Wednesday, December 20

7:30 pm

Harris Center

Folsom, CA


Alex deGrassi
Alex de Grassi has been a unique voice in the world of acoustic guitar for over 30 years; his innovative approach to composing and arranging for solo steel-string guitar has influenced a generation of younger players. From his first solo performances in university coffeehouses and as a street musician to his engagements at prestigious venues including Carnegie Hall, the Kennedy Center, and the Montreux Jazz Festival, Alex has followed his own vision and helped lay the foundation for contemporary fingerstyle guitar. Inspired by American and British Isles folk and blues artists in his early teens, Alex's musical pursuits soon expanded to encompass classical, jazz, and world music. He has since become known for his evocative compositions and arrangements, and for his sheer virtuosity. Using a broad palette of techniques and timbre in conjunction with his ability to weave together melody, counter-melody, bass, harmony, and rhythm into a highly orchestrated canvas of sound, Alex's performances take the listener well beyond the instrument. The Wall Street Journal has called his playing "flawless" and Billboard hails his "intricate finger-picking technique with an uncanny gift for melodic invention."

Alex's career has drawn acclaim for numerous studio recordings as well as for live performances as a soloist and within ensemble settings. His 1978 recording, Turning: Turning Back (cited by Acoustic Guitar magazine among their top ten essential fingerstyle recordings), the subsequent recordings Slow Circle (1979) and Southern Exposure (1984), and his GRAMMY® nominated recording The Water Garden (1998) are considered classics of the genre. In 2006, he collaborated with Quartet San Francisco leader and violinist Jeremy Cohen to premiere an original concerto for steel-string guitar, string quartet, and string orchestra, commissioned and published by String Letter Publishing for their 20th anniversary celebration at Herbst Theater in San Francisco. He has twice been commissioned by the New York Guitar Festival to compose and perform live scores for the festival's Silent Films/Live Guitars series. Festival director David Spelman says "Alex de Grassi is a treasure… his technical wizardry as well as his vibrant and poetic music-making make him one of the most distinctive steel-string guitarists performing today."

Alex's most recent solo guitar recording, In Concert (Mel Bay Records), was recorded in front of a live Nashville audience featuring compositions and arrangements spanning the length of his career. His latest solo studio recording, Now and Then: Folk Songs for the 21st Century (Tropo Records), features contemporary arrangements of treasured melodies from the American standards repertoire. "In rediscovering these songs," he explains, "I came to appreciate the maxim that folk music is a 'living' tradition, and that each generation will find relevance and a way to reinterpret these songs. In that spirit, I have arranged traditional melodies to reflect the musical idioms and social climate of today's multicultural landscape, and to tell a few American stories whose threads reach through time to unite the present with the past."

Such a broad and creative vision has come to be expected from de Grassi. Born in Yokosuka, Japan, and raised in the San Francisco Bay Area, Alex was exposed from his earliest years to a variety of musical influences. His grandfather led a string quartet and was assistant concertmaster with the San Francisco Symphony. His father was trained in classical piano and his mother was a lover of jazz. "The two recordings I heard the most as a child," de Grassi recalls, "were Mozart's Piano Concerto No. 21 and the Louis Armstrong/Ella Fitzgerald version of Porgy & Bess." His first instrument was trumpet, but at age 13 de Grassi switched to guitar.

De Grassi is largely self-taught, but briefly studied jazz guitar with noted teacher Bill Thrasher while at the University of California, Santa Barbara. Since embarking on a recording and concert career, Alex has continued to study classical guitar. He has also studied jazz piano with Bay Area great Mark Levine as well as composition with renowned teacher, pianist, and author William A. Mathieu.

Over the last three decades as a soloist and collaborator, de Grassi has explored a variety of musical directions and has stretched his repertoire to include interpretations of jazz classics with Bolivian Blues Bar (Narada Jazz 1999), and Tatamonk, a collaboration with Chilean folk musician Quique Cruz. His recordings Clockwork, Altiplano, The World's Getting Loud, and Beyond The Night Sky: Lullabies for Guitar (Parents' Choice Gold Award Winner) feature such guest musicians as Patrick O'Hearn, Zakir Hussein, Luis Conte,Paul McCandless, and Mark Egan. Alex's latest foray into collaborativeworks isthe deMania trio with bassist Michael Manring and percussionist Chris Garcia. Their first recording, deMania, was released in 2006.

Alex has toured extensively on the concert and festival circuit, performing in Europe, Latin America, Asia, and throughout North America. He has also traveled to Bolivia (inspiring the title track for his RCA/Novus recording, Altiplano) studying and gathering Andean music and helping bring about the Arawi recording of the Contemporary Orchestra of Native Instruments for New Albion Records. In 2008 he made his classical guitar debut with a performance of Rodrigo's Concerto for Aranjuez in Ukiah, California with the Ukiah Symphony.

In addition to recording and performing, de Grassi keeps active with other projects. He scored music for Mirrors of the Heart for the television series Americas, and was the subject of a PBS concert/interview television show, Alex de Grassi: The Artist's Profile. In the Fall of 2011 he appeared in conversation with neuroscientist and author Daniel Levitin at the San Francisco's Commonwealth Club's live INFORUM discussion of Dr. Levitin's best-selling book This is Your Brain on Music, rebroadcast on 250 NPR affiliates.

In addition to the GRAMMY® nomination, Alex's tenth recording, The Water Garden garnered an Indie Award nomination and was named Crossroads Magazine's Best Acoustic Instrumental Recording of the year. Shortwave Postcard (Auditorium) was picked as one of Acoustic Guitar magazine's Top CDs of 2002.

A frequent guest teacher at the National Summer Guitar Workshop, Alex has also taught master classes at the Interlochen Institute, Berklee School of Music, the Omega Institute, and the Crown of the Continent Guitar Workshop. His guitar transcriptions have been published with Hal Leonard, Stropes Editions, and numerous guitar magazines. The Alex de Grassi Fingerstyle Guitar Method, a reference book on the fundamentals of acoustic guitar technique, was published by String Letter Publishing in March 2012, and he has also penned the introduction to that publisher's popular coffee table art book/reference tome, Custom Guitars: A Complete Guide to Contemporary Custom Guitars. He has recorded instructional videos for Homespun, Hal Leonard, Tropo Records, and most recently for the iPad app On the Path. Alex has been a frequent artist-in-residence at the nation's first fingerstyle guitar degree program at the University of Wisconsin in Milwaukee. He also conducts his own summer workshop in Mendocino County in California and he is on the faculty of the Marin Community Music School in San Anselmo, California. He serves on the advisory board of the New York Guitar Festival.
Barbara Higbie
Barbara Higbie
A Grammy-nominated, Bammy award winning composer, pianist, fiddler, singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist, Barbara Higbie has performed on more than 100 albums, including Carlos Santana’s 2007 release. Her latest solo release, 2014’s “Scenes from Life” was recorded for at Lucas Film’s Skywalker Sound. She tours nationally and internationally, and is the mother of a 13 year old daughter.

Higbie has 13 solo and group recordings to her name, as well as contributions to 10 compilations that have sold in the millions. She was the first female instrumentalist to compose and record for Windham Hill Records, 1982’s Tideline, a duet project with violinist, Darol Anger. Tideline’s unique sound became an instant classic, thanks in part to Higbie’s innovative and moving compositions. One of her pieces from Tideline, ” True Story”, was downloaded on Pandora in 2014 more than 850,000 times.In June or 2015, Tideline was re-issued on Adventure Records. In 2011, Higbie was the first ever “Artist in Residence” at the prestigious west coast Jazz Club, “Yoshi’s”, where she created two new bands. Roots music’s, “Hills to Hollers” with icons Laurie Lewis and Linda Tillery, and the exotic “Cello Heaven” with cellists Joan Jeanreneau of Kronos Quartet fame and new age star, Jami Sieber.

1984 was an important year, when Higbie recorded, with Anger, Mike Marshall and Andy Narrell, “ Live at the Montreux Jazz Festival” for Windham Hill Records, a landmark genre defining album. Her composition “To Be” became Montreux’s radio/VH-1 hit. She toured world-wide with Montreux until 1990.

In addition to her instrumental music, Higbie’s singer-songwriter work, 2 CD’s with vocal dynamo, Teresa Trull, on Olivia Records and 2 solo CD’s on Slowbaby Records have won her critical acclaim and a large, devoted nationwide following.

As a solo artist, Barbara’s first solo CD “Signs of Life” was named a Washington Post “Top Ten of the Year”. Four other solo releases, “I Surrender”, “Variations on a Happy Ending” and ‘Alive in Berkeley” and last year’s “Scenes from Life” followed to much critical acclaim.

Raised in Indiana, at age 13 her family moved to Ghana, West Africa where she studied with master drummer Mustafa Tetty Addy. After musical studies at Mills College, studies at the Sorbonne and a sojourn performing in Paris, she returned to West Africa with a Watson Fellowship to collect traditional music. A professional musician since age 17, Barbara has played everything from Traditional Jazz, Bluegrass and Irish to New Classical Music, Blues and African Pop. She is known for her ability to compose in a style that is both genre bending and accessible.

Higbie has performed with Bonnie Raitt, Carlos Santana, Terry Riley, the Kronos Quartet, Pete Seeger, Holly Near, Will Ackerman,Cris Williamson, Bobby McFerrin, Milton Nascimento, Spyro Gyra, Michael Hedges, Greg Brown, Ferron, Vinnie Colaiuta, Teresa Trull, Vicki Randle, Amy Ray, Darol Anger, Mike Marshall, Rosalee Sorrels, Terry Garthwaite, Laurie Lewis, Liz Story, Benny Rietveld and Alex De Grassi among others.
Will Ackerman
Like the Windham Hill Samplers which were so successful in their day, THE GATHERING CDs are compilations of the musicians Will is producing these days and the GATHERING CONCERTS feature those musicians live and on stage. Will Ackerman is the founder of Windham Hill Records and the producer of over 70 artists, including George Winston, Michael Hedges and Liz Story. He is a Grammy winner and the recipient of 27 Gold and Platinum Records in the US and internationally.

Having sold Windham Hill Records to SONY / BMG in May of 1992, Will has continued to produce musicians in the tradition of Windham Hill. Albums that Will has recently produced have won multiple ZMR Music Awards, and no producer has had more #1 albums on the NAR/ZONE MUSIC charts. In May 2013, Will was honored with a Lifetime Achievement Award at the 9th Annual ZMR Music Awards.

In 2012, Will began creating compilation CDs of the musicians he was currently producing, calling these THE GATHERING. The first GATHERING CD won the coveted ZMR Album of the Year and Best Contemporary Instrumental Album awards with the highest ratings of any CD in the history of those charts. Many of the artists on THE GATHERING CDs have ranked in the top 10 of the ZMR charts and several have been recipients of CD of the Year Award.

Will is inaugurating THE GATHERING concert tours, throughout the US and Canada. These concerts will be promoted as

“THE GATHERING presented by Will Ackerman, founder of Windham Hill Records.”

For many venues and promoters who worked with Windham Hill Records, THE GATHERING concerts will appeal to the audiences that made that label so successful. Will is hoping to perform as part of the ensemble in some of the concerts, and will be available for press and media interviews for all of the concerts.
Venue Information:
Harris Center
10 College Parkway
Folsom, CA, 95630