10 Songs, 33 Minutes

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Ratings and Reviews

5.0 out of 5
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1 Rating

MDiamond ,

Review excerpt from Music and Media Focus

While this new album, “Christmas,” is a collection of holiday classics, they are certainly not traditional-sounding after being filtered through Curtis’ ambient jazz stylings. The scene is set in the opening track, “It Came Upon A Midnight Clear,” with warm synthesizer orchestration and sparkling crystalline bell tones that evoke a vision of falling snow. The familiar piano melody glides in on a subtle contemporary beat and bass line that lets you know that although the song is a classic, this interpretation of it is cool, hip, and modern. I should mention that while I have cited synthesizers, electronic beats and effects, they are used with subtlety and are gently integrated into the song rather than slamming you with them like a dance track. Additionally, the sweetness of Curtis’ piano melodies are so endearing, that this is truly an album that is “fun for the whole family.”

One of my favorite interpretations was “God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen,” with its chugging rhythm and ambient textures. I also really enjoyed the driving world music groove and little synthesizer blips and bleeps on “We Three Kings.” There were a number of wow moments for me on this one. The album concludes with a truly epic version of “Deck The Halls.” This multi layered up-tempo interpretation reminded me a bit of Manheim Steamroller and closed the album with a cinematic flair that was absolutely stunning. Curtis’ contemporary spin on these well-known and much loved songs brings them into the 21st Century while respecting the spirit of the originals. Over the years, I’ve heard countless albums that have presented renditions of traditional seasonal songs in a variety of different styles, but with his simply titled “Christmas” release, Curtis Macdonald has created what has to be one of my favorite holiday albums ever.

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