by Alison Brown


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Banjoist Alison Brown isn't an innovator along the lines of, say, B�la Fleck -- she doesn't play a tricked-out electric instrument or go off on electro-jazz fusion excursions. What she plays is mostly fairly straight-ahead modern jazz with elements of traditional American and British Isles music threaded through it. What makes her playing unique is its blend of chromatic sophistication and melodic inventiveness. When jazz players take on a Christmas music project, they too frequently use the familiar tunes as launching pads for longwinded, self-indulgent noodling; Brown, on the other hand, uses them as opportunities to create glisteningly lovely new arrangements -- some straight and faithful to the original compositions, others more adventurous. Her solos (and those of her band, along with guest fiddler/mandolinist Joe Craven) are creative and interesting, but never devolve into mere showmanship: the rather strange pairing of the Turlough O'Carolan composition "O'Carolan's Farewell" with the Dr. Seuss classic "Welcome Christmas" seems bizarre in concept but sounds great in practice; the same goes for Brown's mash-up of "Carol of the Bells" and "We Three Kings." This disc also features an unusual and very lovely 4/4 arrangement of "Silver Bells," which is normally a waltz, and a solidly swinging take on "Let It Snow! Let It Snow! Let It Snow!" The band finally stretches out with some extended soloing on a samba arrangement of "The Little Drummer Boy," which is followed at the end of the program by a hidden children's vocal arrangement of "Christmas Don't Be Late" (popularized by Alvin & the Chipmunks). No one who likes Christmas music will be able to resist the charms of this album.

Product Details

Release Date: 08/12/2008
Label: Compass Records
UPC: 0766397447025
catalogNumber: 4470
Rank: 223339

Album Credits

Performance Credits

Alison Brown   Primary Artist,Banjo
Larry Atamanuik   Drums
John Burr   Piano
Joe Craven   Fiddle,Mandolin,Percussion
Garry West   Bass
Chloe Kibble   Track Performer
Katie Bryant   Track Performer
David Heyer   Drums

Technical Credits

Alison Brown   Arranger,Adaptation
Leroy Anderson   Composer
Vince Guaraldi   Composer
John Burr   Arranger
Joe Craven   Arranger
Mitchell Parish   Composer
Garry West   Arranger
Lee Mendelson   Composer
Turlough O'Carolan   Composer
Traditional   Composer
Erick Jaskowiak   Engineer

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Evergreen 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
Sean-PA More than 1 year ago
Progressive bluegrass banjoist Alison Brown made her name not only as a virtuosic instrumentalist, but as an accomplished, jazz-influenced composer, a combination that earned plenty of comparisons to Béla Fleck and David Grisman.

On her holiday CD, Evergreen, Brown collaborates with her band along with fiddler/mandolinist Joe Craven and the University School of Nashville Middle School Chorale to create a unique holiday offering for fans of acoustic music. Evergreen is a collection of the fun and imaginative re-workings of holiday classics that are often part of Brown¿s Winter¿s Eve holiday concerts.

If you¿ve been to one of those shows, your well aware of the distinctive Alison Brown Quartet sound. If you¿re new to her music, you¿ll find it to be pure, unassuming, and a perfect way to enhance your holiday season.