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Album Review: Incarnation
Jon Mutchler
Cover image of the album Incarnation by Jon Mutchler
Jon Mutchler
2006 / Too Mutch Music
54 minutes
Review by Kathy Parsons
Incarnation: Nativity Reflections is a beautiful collection of mostly familiar Christmas music arranged and improvised for solo piano by pianist/composer Jon Mutchler. The thirteen tracks include three original pieces, adding to the personal nature of the album. Most of the pieces are quietly reflective, but a few ramp up the energy level a bit, creating a very nice variety of selections.

The CD begins with a gentle, reflective arrangement of “O Come, O Come, Emmanuel.” This ancient piece is updated with some jazz chord voicings that work surprisingly well. The CD contains two versions of Mutchler’s “Incarnation Hymn,” a thoughtful, pensive piece that is full of emotion and very effective. “Silent Night” is also given some jazz harmonies that perk up the ears without detracting from the song - ever so peaceful and calming. “God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen” is one of my favorite Christmas songs, and it always amazes me how many ways this song can be approached and interpreted. Mutchler’s version has a rhythmic energy and a lot of improvisation that seamlessly make the song new again. Outstanding! I’d buy the CD for this track alone! “O Christmas Tree” is a tender love song that has a sense of wistful wonder. “Coventry Carol” is a real surprise and another favorite. I’ve never heard this song played with such gusto and power, and it really works. Some of the verses are quieter and softer, but then this assertive left hand comes back with its rhythmic bass. Fascinating! Mutchler’s “Holly Beach” refers to his father’s longtime home where residents put out paper lanterns every Christmas Eve. “What Child Is This?” is another very unusual arrangement. The first minute of it is very bold with big chords and an interesting rhythm. The beautiful melody weaves in and out of the improvisations, bringing another ancient song right up to date.

Incarnation: Nativity Reflections is a wonderful addition to your holiday music collection. The improvisations and original pieces will make it an album you can listen to any time of the year. It is available from www.jonmutchler.com and amazon.com. Recommended!
December 17, 2006
This review has been tagged as:
Holiday Albums