1998 / Evzone Music
Review by Michael Debbage
‘Twas Christmas past on a clear cold starry night with the snow softly landing on the ground. There is a buzz in the air as the carolers sing sweetly in the distance. It seems to be that time of the year and whether past, present or future there is always time to catch up on a romantic and warm Christmas album. Courtesy of Season Traditions, Skaroulis brings his unique agility by respectfully rearranging eleven traditional carols along with one or two surprises.
For those of you not familiar with Skaroulis he has been recording high quality music since his 1996 debut Homeland which is currently out of print. Season Traditions represents his earlier years and despite being nearly ten years old, George’s arrangements are creative yet reverent of their origin. This is best heard by the overwrought carol “O Tannenbaum” which receives the royal makeover that Skaroulis is so capable of doing. The same can be said for the sometimes frantic “Carol Of The Bells”. Instead, George slows things down as well as adding several chord progressions that are unusual yet surprisingly smooth.
Alongside the many traditional moments, the artist is bold enough to present his listeners with two originals. “Coming Home” has Skaroulis gently bouncing of his keys as the listener rejoices at the thought of returning home where the heart will always be. Meanwhile, “The Gathering” has a more reflective theme to it, perhaps representing some of the bittersweet moments that some associate with the season of Christmas. The album then closes out with a salute to his ancestry roots of Greece as George shares his heritage via the more classically based “Greek New Year Song”.
Equally adapt at rearranging traditional carols or writing his own unique compositions, George Skaroulis is a maestro at both. The gentle touch of this pianist along with the echoed production that is characteristic of the Skaroulis sound is a perfect combination for holiday music. This album is warm and inviting which should make Season Traditions a repeat visitor to your stereo as you prepare for the holiday season.
December 12, 1998