Glory to the Newborn King
2002 / Thankful Music Productions
Review by Kathy Parsons
Glory to the Newborn King is a collection of eleven solo piano arrangements and one jazz ensemble improvisation of various Christmas carols. Michael Barden’s influences are varied, and range from classical to rock to jazz and new age. The first eleven tracks were originally released on cassette in 1994. In 2002, they were edited and re-recorded, and the songs were put into a different order. The last track came from a live performance of a jazz trio in 12/01. Barden has a big, full sound, but this album isn’t about showmanship. It is the sound of an accomplished musician who is passionate about his material. The arrangements are quite original and different, so this is a very nice album if you want to hear a new (but not overly radical) take on some old favorites. My favorite track is a jazzy “We Three Kings,” a song that works well in many different musical settings and styles. This one seems mostly improvised, letting the melody slip in and out. “Silent Night” has some unusual harmonies and lots of open space to suggest just how still that night was. Both gentle and reverent, this is a very effective arrangement of the world’s most-recorded song. “Joy to the World” is big and celebratory, with lots of interesting chord progressions and a strong, almost march-like rhythm. “Hark! The Herald Angels Sing” is upbeat and rhythmic, and starts the collection on a joyful note. The ensemble piece is “I’ll Be Home For Christmas” with piano, bass, and sax. Other titles include “O Come, All Ye Faithful,” “Away In a Manger,” and “O Come O Come, Emmanuel.” All are very well-done and enjoyable. Glory to the Newborn King is available from www.cdbaby.com.
February 20, 2002