Music Morsels

January 2007 

by Mark Waterbury
  Guaraldi Vince Guaraldi - A Charlie Brown Christmas
Fantasy - FCD-30066-2

Perhaps most people who watch one of the holiday season’s most popular shows only give a cursory listen to the musical backdrop. This remastered disc which includes alternate versions of several songs not only provides a means to delve deeper into the show’s music, but is a great tribute to the late jazz piano master Vince Guaraldi. The music is excellent, soothing, joyful, and a wonderful example of a highly talented musician and writer taken before his time. Everyone loves the show, this CD will let you relish the music year-round.   Email:
  Yes Virginia

Yes Virginia - The Essential Christmas Treasury 1997-2005
Wise Guy Records

Overshadowed by Trans Siberian Orchestra and Mannheim Steamroller, this Delaware act has been recording rocked up holiday music for close to a decade. The core of bassist Paul Janocha, guitarist Joe Merkel and keyboardist/vocalist Mario Padovani takes you on a journey of its musical history. Vocally stunning, musically emotive with instrumental prowess and intriguing arrangements, perhaps this collection of songs will garner them deserved recognition comparable to the aforementioned holiday music Goliaths.


  Hometown Heros WSTW’s Hometown Heroes - Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas
Ken-Del Studios - KD2449

Yes Virginia’s Paul Janocha and Mario Padovani assemble some of the best musicians and bands in the Delaware Valley for this delectable compilation. Styles range from the jam rock flavored title track by Soul On, Outset’s folk rock take on “Last Christmas,” and Markus Christoph’s funky whimsical Grinch theme, to the soulful acapella “Silver Bells” by Lights Out, and Rebecca Fishel’s angelic voiced “Song for a Winter’s Night.” There is something for everyone in this treasure trove of passionate, uplifting music by talented musicians.

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  Ten Point Ten Ten Point Ten - 12 25
Prog Rock Records - PRR220

Ten Point Ten’s retro prog pop slant in the Styx/Kansas vein graces both original compositions and holiday classics. Songs like “Messiah, He Is Born” and “Misplaced” showcase the bands inventive songwriting. “Carol of the Bells” and “O Holy Night” receive wondrous makeovers. Lush keyboard passages, intricate guitar work and reverent vocal harmonies enhance the dramatic qualities of this excellent CD.

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  Christmas Treasures Christmas Treasures - A McPherson Guitars Instrumental Collection
Autumn Records

Even if this CD is meant to prove the quality of the acoustic guitars played, it definitely showcases the talents of the musicians playing them. Highly regarded guitarists including Phil Keaggy, Michael Hodge, Bruce Gaitsch and Dave Cleveland provide instrumental poetry. Caressing your soul and uplifting your spirit, this feast will be savored by anyone who loves Christmas music as well as acoustic guitar aficionados.

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  Smooth and Soulful 20th Century Masters - Smooth and Soulful the Christmas Collection
YMC Records - B0007549-02

This collection from legendary soul acts will help you to get your holiday groove on. The Pointer Sister’s take you on a cheerful romp with “Christmas In New York.” Al Jarreau’s bluesy croon wakes you up to “Christmas Morning,” while disco queen Donna Summer stuns you with the passionate beauty of “Christmas Spirit.” This is a great way to hear some of the most soulful voices in history brighten your holidays.


  Willie Nelson 20th Century Masters - The Best of Willie Nelson The Christmas Collection
YMC Records - B0007546-02

You can almost smile in anticipation of hearing the country icon’s unique voice place its indelible stamp on favorites like “White Christmas,” “First Noel,” “Here Comes Santa Claus” and many others.  Willie delivers and then some, the two originals that bookend the disc shining brighter than the classics. “Pretty Paper” displays the traditional country-blues style Willie cut his teeth with. The disc ending “El Nino” will touch your soul deeply with its haunting honesty and subtle musical brilliance.


  Elton John Elton John’s Christmas Party
Hip-O Records - B0007747-02

The Rocket Man chooses his holiday favorites and he has excellent taste. After launching the disc with the rollicking fun of Elton’s own “Step Into Christmas,” acts as diverse as The Beach Boys, U2, The Band and Rufus Wainwright contribute to the party. The Ventures foot stomping “Jingle Bell Rock,” Otis Redding’s robust “Merry Christmas Baby” and The Pretenders emotive classic “2000 Miles” keep the festivities brewing. A great collection for post baby boomer rockers. $2 from each CD sold will be donated to the Elton John AIDS Foundation.


  Ali Lohan Ali Lohan - Lohan Holiday
YMC Records - B0007599-02

At the tender age of thirteen, Lindsay’s younger sis Ali proves with her first CD she won’t need nepotism to carve her own successful career. Her little girl lilt on “Christmas Day” is followed by the surprising strength and maturity of the pop rocker “I Like Christmas.” “Groove Of Christmas” flaunts pop diva potential. An enjoyable, family friendly disc as well as launching pad.


  Classics on Piano 20th Century Masters - Christmas Classics on Piano
YMC Records - B0007548-02

Featuring some of the world’s top twinklers of the ivories, this disc is both a piano and Christmas music lover’s dream. Michael W. Smith’s “What Child Is This” is breathlessly reverent. George Winston’s subtly dramatic “Carol Of the Bells” will tug at your emotions. John Tesh’s personal stamp on “We Three Kings" is captivating. A marvelous collection of blissful, inspiring music.


  On This Christmas Night 20th Century Masters - On This Christmas Night
YMC Records- B0007547-02

A delicious holiday buffet of stars lay open up their hearts to enliven your holiday spirit. The unmistakable emotive elegance of B.J. Thomas graces the title track and “God Bless The Children.” Chris Christian who wrote several of the songs gets the chance to let his vocal talents shine in “Christmas With Children.” Amy Grant is delightful singing “Santa’s Reindeer Ride.” A blessed gift of easy listening originals from talented performers and songwriters.


  Bryan White

Bryan White - My Christmas Project (EP)
Covenant Productions

Country star Bryan White jazzes up "White Christmas" on this project featuring his five fave holiday tunes. He offers an emotive rendition of the carole "The First Noel". His instrumental smooth jazz guitar style on "God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen" will add a lively ambiance to your Christmas festivities as Bryan displays his guitar prowess. "Santa Claus Is Comin' to Town" was recorded live in Orange County and the final tune 'The Heart of Christmas" is a touching narrative by Allie McGraw about the story of the nativity. The EP features a heartfelt surprise bonus track - a visit by Santa Claus, Bryan's grandfather. Visit Bryan's web site for a video clip.   Email:

Adam Rich
Division of Serge Entertainment Group