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Non-Prog CD Reviews

Dave Brubeck

A Dave Brubeck Christmas

Review by Gary Hill

Dave Brubeck is a legend of jazz and a great band leader. I hate, therefore, to give a mediocre CD review, but this one isn’t great. Don’t get me wrong, most of the tracks here taken by themselves are excellent. It’s just that with just piano holding everything down it all starts to sound the same. That said, this would be great music to have one when you are opening gifts or eating your holiday dinner. It just doesn’t hold up well to real critical or intense listening.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2008  Volume 6 and Music Street Journal The Holiday Edition at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
Homecoming Jingle Bells
This leads off in a playful manner.  It’s a little before the one minute mark when the real jazz stylings enter. The familiar melody lines are treated to a cool jazz treatment.

Santa Claus Is Coming to Town
Brubeck brings a bluesy jazz treatment to this piano number. This one moves further from the song’s roots than the first piece. It’s a cool song.

Joy to the World
This doesn’t really feel much like its source material. It also doesn’t seem exceptionally holiday like to me. That said, it’s a bouncy and fun little number anyway.

Away in a Manger
Here we get a gentle and delicate treatment.

Winter Wonderland
This is bouncy and fun. There’s some great jazz soloing to be had after a while.

O Little Town of Bethlehem
Brubeck gives us a gentle and thoughtful rendition. It really gets quite involved, intricate and lush before it ends.

What Child Is This? (Greensleeves)
An ancient composition, I’ve always loved the melody of this. Brubeck gives us a pretty and quite mellow rendition.

To Us Is Given
I’m not really familiar with this song. This is a pretty one, but by this point it’s all starting to blend together.

O Tannenbaum
This is a melody I’ve always enjoyed so it is elevated a bit from some of the other music on the set.

Silent Night
I really don’t hear a lot of the song in this one. There are some moments where the melody comes through, but for the most part this feels like a fairly original number. It’s pretty, but again everything is beginning to blend together.

Cantos para Pedir las Posadas
Here’s another where I’m not familiar with the original. This is delicate and playful, but the overwhelming sense of “it all sounds the same” is getting pervasive.

Run, Run, Run to Bethlehem
Once again, this is a track with which I’m not familiar. It seems tasty and fun, and manages to bring enough jazz energy to the table to rise above the sea of similarity.

Farewell Jingle Bells
This is pretty and a bit sad. It’s got some great jazz stylings and again manages to feel fresh on a disc that lacks variety. That says a lot.

The Christmas Song
This old familiar “chestnut” – yes, pun intended – is performed here with style. It’s a tasteful piece and a nice way to end the CD.

 
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