My Christmas Day
2004 / Rauttnee Publishing Co.
Review by Kathy Parsons
My Christmas Day is a collection seven traditional and three original piano solos for the holiday season. Utilizing a sophisticated playing style and very impressive technique, Smith actually breathes refreshing new life into some of these well-worn chestnuts (and, yes, that song is included, too!). A few of the pieces are played in a manner that could invite a sing-along (“Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer,” “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas,” “The Christmas Song”), while others are more interpretive (“Away In a Manger,” “God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen,” “Jingle Bells”); all are very enjoyable.
The CD opens with a lovely, intense arrangement of “Carol of the Bells” that keeps the melody intact but Smith also adds distinctive touches that make the song his own. The title track is one of the original pieces. Warm and a bit wistful, it fits right in with the traditional songs. “March of the Kings” is another original, and one of my favorites. It reminds me a bit of some of David Nevue’s work - on the dark side with compelling energy and emotion. The simple melody of “Away In a Manger” is intact, with some contemporary chord changes and a gentle, new-agey kind of feel that works very well. I’m always amazed at the varied interpretations of “God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen,” and this one made me take notice. Smith’s arrangement is in a theme and variations form that is fascinating as it segues into different verses - another favorite! “Fireside Christmas” is a warm and cozy original piece full of love and contentment. The past several years, there has been a trend to slow “Jingle Bells” way down, making it nostalgic and bittersweet. Smith’s arrangement is one of the better ones of this type, although the reverb is a bit distracting in places.
The only thing that detracts from the music on this CD is that it sounds like it was recorded on an electronic piano. Otherwise, it’s a great selection for the holidays. Samples can be heard and purchases can be made at www.cdbaby.com.
October 9, 2005