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December 09, 1988 - Image 20

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The Michigan Daily, 1988-12-09
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G e r1....ss.Is b e . tp ..y ..
"" " ".:45:,+f:i S. _:L vh'3tk nGe o r g e W n s t o n , Mi s s i o n : I mp o s s i b l e t op lyA

Although he's
considerd New



can sure swing
By D. Mara Lowenstein
The lights are low, the air is rich
with the scent of bodily-worn
patchouli, and couples in Birken-
stocks, Rockports, crystal pendants
wrapped in leather thongs, and
natural fibers stroll with swaying
hips and yoga-relaxed joints down
the aisles of the concert hall. This
atmosphere is accentuated by a New
Age crowd with Shirley Maclaine
on the brain and a complete set of
"Environmental" music in their
meditation room album collection.
Despite the somewhat unbelievable
sincerity of the listeners and the
sickeningly commercial "let's help
the yuppies unwind" promo, Wind-
ham Hill has actually managed
(only God knows how) to enlist a
few talented musicians: Michael
Hedges, Shadow Fax, William
Ackerman, Liz Story, and George
Winston to name a few. Sunday
night, at Hill Auditorium, Winston
is coming to blush the walls and
vaulted ceilings with his sensu-
ously melodic piano.
Born in Michigan, Winston grew
up in Montana, Mississippi,
Florida, New Orleans, and Califor-
nia. Influenced by pop instrumental
during his early years, he moved to
blues, jazz, and R&B after graduat-

The three faces of George Winston.

ing from high school. His greatest
influences by far are Roy Byrd
a.k.a. Professor Longhair and Fats
Waller. This is all incredibly mun-
dane, but the final result is a musi-
cian who truly cannot be catego-
rized. Winston's recordings, on
both Windham Hill and his own
Dancing Cat Records are mostly
"New Age-y," slow, mood-trans-
forming melodies. But in concert,
this innocuous-looking man of
serenity turns into one of the dirti-

est boogie woogie blues-rockers
around. His repetoire ranges from
Vince Guraldi's "Linus and Lucy"
to Amos Milburn's "Chicken
Shack Boogie".
The startling variety of music
Winston performs during his con-
certs throws a curve ball at the
premise that Windham Hill and
other New Age labels are built
upon. The premise that creating
music with the sole purpose of re-
laxing the stressed yuppies of the
'80s and satisfying the '60s hang-
ers-on (both of whom are too afraid
to try some alternative or progres-
sive jazz) is a valuable enough
cause to warrant the creation of a
label. If musicians such as Winston
can play such a variety of music,
all with the same aplomb, then
why, perchance is only their
mushy-mood-making music recor-

ded? Is it that commercialism has
finally caught a toe hold in the
"New Age" spiritual movement or
was commercialism part of the
game from the start? I guess if
crystals, supposedly possessing
magical powers, can be sold in su-
permarkets for five dollars a bunch
(yeah, my brother bought some
and, if you can believe it, he wears
them), then why, I am forced to
wonder, shouldn't jazz be subjected
to this cheap and obviously mar-
ketable "made-for-a-purpose" scene.
Before writing this article I sat
down, turned down the lights, put
on An Evening with Windham Hill
, lit some incense... Okay, okay, I
didn't go that far, but I did pretend
to smell the jasmine and tried to
immerse myself in a self-created
aura of relaxation. It worked, until I
See WINSTON, Page 6

Your mission:
find a band
that's sustained
more changes
ByMark Swartz -
Ever since "party" became a verb
some time earlier this decade, it has
accumulated a battallion of mean-
ings - some harmless, some un-
printable. For the moment, limit
your definition to all forms of
"celebration" that can be acted out
in public. If you want to party,
you're going to need tunes -
preferably loud and maybe not to-
tally in control. Mission: Impossi-
ble is your band.
Like a lot of bands, Mission:
Impossible was a joke at its incep-
tion. The two original remaining
members, Rob Carr and Chris Gor-
don, once bussed tables at Alpha
Delta Pi sorority and passed the
time singing in the kitchen. After a
summer of housepainting, they
found themselves with a $2400
surplus and a burning desire to play
rock 'n' roll. But there was one
hitch - neither of them could play.
Gordon knew something about the
violin and Carr had no background
"We walked into the music store
and said, 'I'll take one of those, one
of those... and don't we need one of
those amplifier things?"' recalled
Gordon, who has since become an
ace axeslinger. They played their
first gig two weeks later with a
backlog of material consisting of
hardly-recognizable takes of "Louie,
Louie," "Wooly Bully," and "Wild
Thing." "We didn't think we'd be
able to pull it off," Carr recalled,
"That's Mission: Impossible."
The band has progressed miles
since then and has expanded its
repertoire and refined its technique,
but not without a few face-lifts.
There have been 27 personnel
changes since 1985. The current
line-up includes Carr on guitar and
vocals; Gordon on guitar; Andy
Calder on bass; Megan Fitzpatrick
on vocals and hats; Suzinne Pak on
keyboards (she joined the band
when she responded to an ad for a
room to rent and the classically-
trained pianist played her first gig a

Continued from Page 10
ment of an advanced and civilized
society here, leaving out the
brutality.with which Columbus
treated the Indians, his enslavement
of them, his murder of them to get
gold, to get trophies, to be able to
show things and bring things back
to his financiers and sponsors in
Spain. Now when you tell the story
of Columbus as a committer of
what his biographer, Samuel Elliot
Morrison, called genocide; when
you do that, you are shaking peo-
ple's belief in the benevolence of
Western civilization, and you cast
doubt on its origins - you're
throwing some sand at the purity of
this belief that white Western civi-
lization brought noble things to a
"savage" world, leaving out the
history of what we did to those
"savages," and in the course of that,
what we did to ourselves.
W: Since U.S. academics are free
to teach alternative versions of his-
tory and face no threat of physical
sanction if they deviate from ap-
proved doctrine, have we seen -
judging from the uniformity in
U.S. historical accounts - aca-
demic self-censorship?
Z: Well it is self-censorship. It is
in the sense that you're not going
to be imprisoned for what you
write, but it's not totally self-cen-
sorship. That is, it's self-censorship
in reaction to an unspoken view and
kind of tacit understanding that cer-
tain ways in which you describe the
world are not tolerable. If you write

about the growth of the American
industrial machine in the late 19th
and early 20th century, you're ex-
pected to write about it as a
wonderful thing. This was the era
of the Carnegies and the Rocke-
fellers and the Mellons and the great
giants of ingenuity and enterprise
who made America the rich country
that it is. And if you wrote about
the conditions of the workers in the
mines and mills, if you emphasized
not so much what Rockefeller did
to to build up the oil industry - to
increase the GNP of the country -
but if you emphasized the Colorado
coal strike in 1913-14 where Rock-
efeller used the national guard and
used a private detective force to beat
and kill miners, well, that might
lead to suspicion that you're a radi-
cal, a socialist, a communist, a
trouble-maker. And all you have to
do is read a new book out called
That Noble Dream, by Peter
Novick, a historian at the Univer-
sity of Chicago. It's a kind of sur-
vey of how historians have thought
[about] objectivity and subjectivity
in the 20th-century, and what is

" Inside Rick's
611 Church

y r * Take out/catering

quite clear is how many, many in-
stances there were in which histori-
ans who told uncomfortable truths
got into trouble with the estab-
lishment, lost their jobs, didn't get
tenure, were ridden out of the pro-
fession. Charles Beard was an ex-
ample of a great historian who,
when he began to say things that
were unpopular, starting with his
treatment of the constitution and
his skeptical look at the founding
fathers, ending with his skepticism
about Roosevelt and WW 11, well,
Beard became kind of persona non
grata. But of course worse things
happen to other people. I think
more recently of Lvnd who left the
profession of history and became a
lawyer because he couldn't get a
teaching job after he had partici-
pated in a number of radical activi-
ties like going to Hanoi. So histo-
rians and scholars in general are
careful. No, they're not going to be
put in jail, not going to be beaten
and killed, but their professional
reputations will suffer; they will be
called subjective; they will be ac-
See INTERVIEW, Page 16



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