Summer Solstice 2: A Windham Hill Collection Import
With a blend of New Age sensibility and performances from world-class international artists, Windham Hill's second Solstice collection is perfectly suited to the time of year for which it's named. There's substantial variety on this disc, from the ethereal guitar and flute of Angels of Venice's "After the Harvest", to the choral piece "Silgugu Isiphambano" from Ladysmith Black Mambazo, to the up-tempo, jazzy "Tres Curmins" from Lani Hall, to the upbeat "Alegre Vida" from Yomo Toro. There's a fine contribution from Buckwheat Zydeco that evokes a carnival atmosphere, and "Lei 'Awapuhi" from Ledward Kaapana, who infuses the piece with bluesy touches of slide guitar and bent notes. This is music to open your windows and air out your house to. -- Genevieve Williams
“Siwa" by Samite Mulondo kicks the album off and, while this African music piece would be fine for a world music sample, I am not sure what it is doing here. It simply doesn’t sound very Windham Hill. “After the Harvest” by Angels of Venice does sound very much like a Windham Hill Piece but it doesn’t sound like summer. It’s a beautiful piece to be sure but I was left wondering what it was doing on this album. “Lei' Awapuhi (Yellow Ginger Lei)" from Ledward Kaapana gets the album on track followed by “Tres Curumins (Three Young Indians)" by Lani Hall. It’s always a joy to hear those musicians and they are in fine shape here. Next up is “Sutu Kun," an interesting vocal by Vieux Diop that, again, does not make me think of summer of Windham Hill. Then we head to the bayou for “Everything Hurts" by "Buckwheat" Dural which is jarring. It’s a fun piece but simply doesn’t flow with the rest of the album and the theme of playing sick to avoid school doesn’t fit with the summer theme and it’s off the beaten path from where Windham Hill is. “Cruisin' Negril” by "Snuffy" Walden is a nice smooth jazz piece and the first half of the album closes by returning to African music with “Silgugu Isiphambano" by Ladysmith Black Mambazo.
Patti Cathcart launches the second half with “Adventures In Paradise,” something of a jazzy vocal piece. It’s a good start and the momentum continues with the Latin flavors of “Alegre Vida,” a solid outing by Yomo Toro, and the weaker “La Feria De Las Flores” by "Flaco" Jimenez. Blues musician Taj Mahal is next with the fine “No Na Mamo.” The last quarter of the album features musicians who are more associated with Windham Hill. George Winston offers the quick “Birds in Flight” which leaves a nice impression. Acoustic guitarist Earl Klugh keeps the momentum going with “I’m Falling” before Sean Harkness slows things down with the gentle “Puesta Del Sol.” Will Ackerman, a Windham Hill stalwart, closes things out with “A Child’s Song,” which has some nice blending of his usual excellent guitar work with some vocals. A great tune but to be sure but it doens’t have anything to do with summer.
Simply put, this comes off as a mix of world music and a sampler album which Windham Hill was fond of releasing. It simply doesn’t have much to do with summer and some of the songs simply don’t jell, especially on the first half. It’s a strange compilation and a rare misfire from Windham Hill.