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Christmas Cedar And Spruce / Joel Brown, Andrew Brown, Et Al


Release Date: 09/27/2005 
Label:  Albany Records   Catalog #: 789   Spars Code: DDD 
Composer:  TraditionalFranz Xaver GruberJohann Sebastian BachLowell Mason,   ... 
Performer:  Joel BrownChuck D'AloiaPeter "Madcat" RuthChris Brubeck,   ... 
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Length: 0 Hours 43 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews

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This collection of 11 Christmas carol/song arrangements by guitarist Joel Brown offers what used to be known as "musical stylings", where familiar tunes were reimagined, ranging from ever-so-slightly schmaltzy treatment to complete revamping, where rhythms could be altered, syncopated, stretched, melodic ornamentation freely added, certain notes bent or scooped, and so forth. In other words, the arrangers and performers rendered a song in a new style of pop, blues, jazz, rock, cabaret, or some combination thereof. Often, this results in an agreeable, flavorful sound that gives a tune a happy alternate life, moving easily
Read more along and nestling comfortably in the background. Mostly that's what Brown and his colleagues give us here--a disc that will suit the upbeat ambience of a holiday gathering or the relaxed spirit of a (more or less) mellow afternoon.

Some of the songs feature guitar only (or guitar duet), while others employ various other instruments, from harmonica to clarinet, to piano. Usually, the arrangements work: Joy to the world as a country dance is a bit over the top, but the group's jazzy take on Santa Claus is Coming to Town is a kick, especially with the swinging clarinet and guitar solos, and the folky finger-pickin' style of Jolly Old Saint Nicholas also proves engaging enough. Best, however, are Brown's solo-guitar numbers, especially the properly atmospheric In the bleak mid-winter and fluid ostinato/arpeggios and imaginatively harmonized We Three Kings. Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring, scored here for guitar and cello, is delivered with a respectful faithfulness to the original--but when have you ever heard Good King Wenceslas as a blues number, complete with harmonica?

No, this is not a traditional Christmas program--but it's got all the necessary ingredients, including joy, excitement, familiar tunes, and generous amounts of surprises. The musicians are all very fine--and obviously are enjoying themselves, and the guitar sound is wonderfully rich, warm, and full-bodied. The recording perspective may be a bit close for some listeners--there's some very audible squeaking of fingers on strings on a few of the tracks--but the sound is exceptionally clear and vibrant and generally well-balanced (although I would have preferred less bass in Good King Wenceslas). Try this if you like your Christmas music to dance and swing, and occasionally just sweetly sing.

--David Vernier, ClassicsToday.com
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Works on This Recording

1.
Angels we have heard on high by Traditional
Performer:  Joel Brown (Guitar), Chuck D'Aloia (Guitar)
Written: France 
Venue:  Galileo Sounds, Saratoga Springs, New Yo 
Length: 4 Minutes 18 Secs. 
Notes: Arrangers: Joel Brown; Chuck D'Aloia. 
2.
We wish you a merry Christmas by Traditional
Performer:  Chuck D'Aloia (Guitar), Joel Brown (Guitar)
Written: England 
Venue:  Galileo Sounds, Saratoga Springs, New Yo 
Length: 1 Minutes 53 Secs. 
Notes: Arranger: Joel Brown. 
3.
Greensleeves by Traditional
Performer:  Joel Brown (Guitar), Peter "Madcat" Ruth (Harmonica), Chris Brubeck (Piano)
Period: Renaissance 
Written: 16th Century; England 
Venue:  Galileo Sounds, Saratoga Springs, New Yo 
Length: 6 Minutes 31 Secs. 
Notes: Arrangers: Joel Brown; Chris Brubeck. 
4.
Silent Night by Franz Xaver Gruber
Performer:  Joel Brown (Guitar)
Period: Classical 
Written: 1818; Austria 
Venue:  Galileo Sounds, Saratoga Springs, New Yo 
Length: 4 Minutes 9 Secs. 
Notes: Arranger: Joel Brown. 
5.
Herz und Mund und Tat und Leben, BWV 147: Jesu bleibet meine Freude "Jesu, joy of man's desiring" by Johann Sebastian Bach
Performer:  Joel Brown (Guitar), Andrew Brown (Cello)
Period: Baroque 
Written: 1723; Leipzig, Germany 
Venue:  Galileo Sounds, Saratoga Springs, New Yo 
Length: 3 Minutes 24 Secs. 
Notes: Arranger: Joel Brown. 
6.
Joy to the World by Lowell Mason
Performer:  Joel Brown (Guitar), Kristin Bacchiocchi-Stewart (Flute), Andrew Brown (Cello)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 19th Century; USA 
Venue:  Galileo Sounds, Saratoga Springs, New Yo 
Length: 3 Minutes 27 Secs. 
Notes: Arranger: Joel Brown. 
7.
Santa Claus is comin' to town by John Frederic Coots
Performer:  Joel Brown (Guitar), Frank Brown (Clarinet), Jason Brown (Double Bass)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1934; USA 
Venue:  Galileo Sounds, Saratoga Springs, New Yo 
Length: 4 Minutes 20 Secs. 
Notes: Arranger: Joel Brown. 
8.
We three kings by John Henry Hopkins Jr.
Performer:  Joel Brown (Guitar)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: England 
Venue:  Galileo Sounds, Saratoga Springs, New Yo 
Length: 3 Minutes 55 Secs. 
Notes: Arranger: Joel Brown. 
9.
Good King Wenceslas by Traditional
Performer:  Joel Brown (Guitar), Peter "Madcat" Ruth (Harmonica), Chris Brubeck (Fretless Bass)
Written: England 
Venue:  Galileo Sounds, Saratoga Springs, New Yo 
Length: 3 Minutes 56 Secs. 
Notes: Arranger: Joel Brown. 
10.
Jolly old Saint Nicolas by Traditional
Performer:  Joel Brown (Guitar)
Written: England 
Venue:  Galileo Sounds, Saratoga Springs, New Yo 
Length: 2 Minutes 32 Secs. 
Notes: Arranger: Joel Brown. 
11.
In the bleak mid-winter by Gustav Holst
Performer:  Joel Brown (Guitar)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: by 1906; England 
Venue:  Galileo Sounds, Saratoga Springs, New Yo 
Length: 3 Minutes 50 Secs. 
Notes: Arranger: Joel Brown. 

Sound Samples

Angels We Have Heard on High
What Child Is This?
Silent Night (Stille Nacht) (arr. for guitar)
Herz und Mund und Tat und Leben (arr. for guitar and cello): Herz und Mund und Tat und Leben: Chorale: Jesus bleibet meine Freude (Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring) (arr. for guitar and cello)
Joy to the World (arr. guitar, flute and cello)
In the bleak mid-winter (arr. for guitar)
Santa Claus Is Coming To Town (arr. for guitar, clarinet and double bass)
We Three Kings of Orient Are (arr. for guitar)
Jolly Old Saint Nicholas
Good King Wenceslas
We Wish You a Merry Christmas

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