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CD Review: Pure Will Ackerman

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A CD, a rich body of work spanning at least a decade, an auditory glimpse into the world of a master musician who pioneered an outlet and discovered such talents as George Winston, Michael Hedges and Michael Manring with his label Windham Hill Records. Pure Will Ackerman is a palette of emotion and musicianship that will add color to your music collection.

Though this CD may be an accurate archive of Will Ackerman’s talent on the acoustic guitar, it is also a testament to his songwriting skills and the ability to incorporate talented musicians while letting them shine. Its timeless beauty is a rare find in genres other than classical and jazz – so it’s no surprise this release is inspired by those elements. This thoughtfully organized compilation aspires above those elements with such tracks like “Driving,” “Climbing in Geometry,” and “Ventana.”

There are moments on this album where you will feel like you are listening to the soundtrack of life, so exuberant and soulful are the passages. Organic spirituality can be felt on tracks like “Walk with Me” and “Briars above the Well,” but do not mistake Mr. Ackerman’s vision as New Age.

These songs don’t speak of a better life or of a different world; they speak about this life, this world. There is beauty in the Here and Now. These aspects come from the varying influences of folk and other worldly music, which lends human strength and compassion to each of these songs. Solo pieces like “Processional” and “The Bricklayer’s Beautiful Daughter” highlight these human moments and showcase Mr. Ackerman’s ability to soar through a song on his own.

“Hawk Circle” is a poignant masterpiece indulging us with the intimate chemistry of George Winston, Michael Hedges and Will Ackerman. Unfortunately, the passing of Mr. Hedges leaves me yearning at what an album by this trio would sound like. If you don’t let the CD progress to the bonus track, “Hawk Circle” makes for a powerful ending; an ending to an audio journey that leaves you grateful and with a better understanding of what “pure” really is.

Mr. Ackerman completely sold off Windham Hill in 1996 to live in Windham County, Vermont, where he still works on music and building. He will even perform a “house concert” in an intimate setting if you contact him. For more information visit Ackerman’s nicely designed website.

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About guppusmaximus

  • Eric Olsen

    very nice job Gup: you describe your reaction to Ackerman’s music very well, thanks!

  • Guppusmaximus

    Honestly, coming from you, that compliment is an acheivement for me. Thank you. It was an honor for me to be able to cover just that speck of music from a living legend.

  • Guppusmaximus

    *Ohh* I didn’t realize it made the spotlight…. Thanks!! I like the title because I really do “Diggeth” Will Ackerman….

  • Will Ackerman is a brilliant guitarist–nothing I love more than making the wife a cup of tea on a cold winter’s night and chilling with a good book while “Sound of Wind Driven Rain” plays in the background. Your on the mark when you say, “you feel like you’re listening to the soundtrack of life.”

    The conundrum, then, is I already own most of his discography; hence I already own the tracks off the retrospective.

    Then again, I know he recorded two versions of “Anne’s Song,” so perhaps I should take the CD for a spin to see if he’s remastered any tracks…

    Great review!

  • Guppusmaximus

    Thanks Jim… Seeing how you have that collection I think you should check out “Returning” (2004) because that is the release where he re-vamped his own tunes. Unfortunately, this is not the case with “Pure…”,BUT, there is the bonus track,”Murray’s Song” which has never been released prior to this compilation.

  • Thanks for making me aware of this musician 🙂

  • Guppusmaximus

    Mabon- Besides Mr. Ackerman, you should also check out:
    Ken Bonfield
    Michael Manring
    Carl Weingarten
    Dave Cullen
    Scott McGill

    When you research these guys you’ll find so much more in the way of artists that your head will spin.