Ted Brabham’s second CD, A Christmas Collection
, is a blend of instrumental and vocal arrangements of popular, traditional, and sacred music of the season. Billed as “Ted Brabham and Friends,” this CD has a big, full-bodied sound with piano, synth, and other instruments as well as the vocals. Not surprisingly, I very much prefer the instrumental versions of most of the songs. (One of the soprano’s voices is a bit too operatic for my ears.) Most of the songs are presented in a fairly traditional style, although not all of the selections are what you would expect on a traditional Christmas album - if that makes sense. Vince Guaraldi’s “Christmas Time Is Here” isn’t often on an album with “The Lord’s Prayer,” and “My Favorite Things” isn’t a song that comes to mind when I think of Christmas music, but these work well together, giving the album a variety of moods and stylings that keeps it interesting.
The collection opens with “Mary Did You Know,” a piece I’ve never heard before. It is hauntingly beautiful with piano and orchestration, along with bells. “Winter Wonderland” is a bouncy, joyful rendition, featuring Boundless Love Quartet on vocals. With organ, piano, and drums in the background, this has an almost gospel feel to it that is infectious. “Carol of the Bells” is a big, energetic instrumental arrangement (it never ceases to amaze me how this song can be transformed into so many styles and interpretations.) that melts into a more acoustic “What Child Is This?” with piano and strings. I like this one a lot! Dale Perkins’ vocals on “I’ll Be Home For Christmas” are from the heart, and are deeply touching with so many of our military people in the Middle East this year. I also really like “The Little Drummer Boy” with mostly piano and drums with synths in the background. “Silent Night/ Sleep, O Holy Child” is the most gospel-styled piece on the album, and it works really well. I also really like “Christmas Time Is Here,” again, mostly piano with some background shadings. “Santa Claus Is Comin’ To Town” is almost wistful with piano, guitar, and some synth coloration.
Both joyful and thoughtful, Ted Brabham and Friends have put together is very nice package of Christmas songs and melodies. It is available from amazon.com, towerrecords.com, cdbaby.com, and www.tedbrabham.com