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Carla's Christmas Carols
     

Carla's Christmas Carols

by Steve Swallow
 
Carla Bley and Christmas carols? You bet. She loves them and has incorporated them into her live sets for decades now. On this WATT release, recorded in 2008 at La Buisonne Studio in the south of France, she and bassist Steve Swallow took a couple of days off a European tour with the Partyka Brass Quintet and cut ten of the 12 selections here. The other two pieces --

Overview

Carla Bley and Christmas carols? You bet. She loves them and has incorporated them into her live sets for decades now. On this WATT release, recorded in 2008 at La Buisonne Studio in the south of France, she and bassist Steve Swallow took a couple of days off a European tour with the Partyka Brass Quintet and cut ten of the 12 selections here. The other two pieces -- "O Holy Night" and "Joy to the World" -- were taken from a concert performance four days earlier in Berlin. This may be the Christmas recording of 2009. Bley's arrangements are both elegant and sometimes quirky, but always engaging and fun, and show a complete love of the original material. Check her readings of "The Christmas Song," the two-part "God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen," and the deeply moving and soulful version of "O Holy Night," where the lead melody is played by Swallow. In addition, these songs in Bley's hands all have swing in them -- a beautiful example is in "Ring Christmas Bells," with Bley's added cadenza in the bridge. There are also two Bley originals in the set that serve as a very proper and even surprising introduction to "Jingle Bells." The first is, of course, the utterly playful "Hell's Bells" and the grooving hard bop swing in it provided by Swallow's playing. In the middle section he and Tobias Weidinger's trumpet go head to head, followed by some ensemble play and Bley's own solo before the "Jingle Bells" theme is stated in striated harmony. This segues into an absolutely gorgeous "Jesus Maria" (which Jimmy Giuffre first recorded back in 1961), and is quite at home in this collection of carols. "Jingle Bells" itself is like a mini-suite of jazz from New Orleans to New York (with nice touches from Weidinger's glockenspiel and Edward Partyka's tuba). While the argument that there should be a moratorium on Christmas recordings is a good one in the 21st century, Carla's Christmas Carols provides a powerful counter to that view. She has added so much to these songs without taking away any of the warmth, joy, and nostalgia inherent to the season or their place in it.

Product Details

Release Date:
11/03/2009
Label:
Ecm Records
UPC:
0602527124131
catalogNumber:
001342802

Tracks

Album Credits

Performance Credits

Steve Swallow   Primary Artist
Adrian Mears   Trombone
Edward Partyka   Tuba,Bass Trombone
Christine Chapman   Horn
Axel Schlosser   Trumpet,Chimes,Flugelhorn,Soloist
Tobias Weidinger   Trumpet,Flugelhorn,Glockenspiel

Technical Credits

Adolphe Adam   Composer
Carla Bley   Arranger,Composer,Producer
Steve Swallow   Producer
Mel Tormé   Composer
Isaac Watts   Composer
Lowell Mason   Composer
Edmund Hamilton Sears   Composer
Traditional   Composer
Nicolas Baillard   Engineer
Gérard De Haro   Engineer
Ulf Drechsel   Producer
Nikolaus Löwe   Engineer
Berlin Brandenburg, Rundfunk   Engineer
Mykola Leontovych   Composer

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