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Album Review: Christmas Morning
Bob "Chaz" Baker
Cover image of the album Christmas Morning by Bob
Christmas Morning
Bob "Chaz" Baker
2014 / Bob Baker
43 minutes
Review by Kathy Parsons
Christmas Morning is a collection of twelve Christmas carols (three are a medley) arranged and performed by Colorado pianist Bob Baker. Some of these traditional carols (and one original) are performed as piano solos and some feature Mark Baker on flugelhorn, Wayne Templeman on cello, and/or Todd Kelly on string bass programming. These beautiful arrangements are reverent, reflective and calming, celebrating the birth of Jesus rather than the coming of Santa Claus. It’s a very soulful album without a lot of flash or fanfare. Baker expresses sincerity and a quiet joy that flow through the music freely and effortlessly.

Christmas Morning begins with a gentle arrangement of “The First Noel.” After a solo piano intro, Mark Baker comes in making it a graceful trio for piano, flugelhorn and bass. Baker’s piano interludes are especially nice on this one! “Away In a Manger” is the first Christmas song many children learn and Baker’s sweet arrangement for piano and cello expresses that childlike tenderness, innocence and sense of wonder. I’m not familiar with “Christmas Morning,” so I assume it’s a Bob Baker original piano solo. Delicate and quiet, it also conveys a sense of excitement and anticipation. “What Child Is This?” is a trio for piano, cello, and flugelhorn. The harmonies are lovely and give this ancient song a different take. I especially like the cello and piano together. “O Come O Come Emmanuel” is one of the oldest carols, and is always one of my favorites. The first two minutes of this arrangement are solo piano, and then it becomes a duet for piano and flugelhorn with a slightly jazz feeling. “Silent Night” again features the quartet - dreamy, peaceful and evocative. This solo piano arrangement of “O Come All Ye Faithful” is both calming and spirited - not an easy thing to pull off, but Baker does it beautifully with some light jazz treatment that works well. “Hark! the Herald Angels Sing” can take on a variety of stylings, and this one is a quiet trio for piano, cello and bass - smooth and graceful rather than triumphant. “O Little Town of Bethlehem” has a stately yet flowing tone with piano, bass, and cello. The closing track is a medley of “I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day,” “Joy to the World,” and “Gloria in Excelsis Deo” again performed on piano, bass, and cello - graceful and relaxing.

Christmas Morning would be a delightful addition to anyone’s collection of Christmas music! It is available from www.bobchazbaker.com, Amazon, iTunes and CD Baby.
January 17, 2016
This review has been tagged as:
Holiday Albums