Wendel Werner’s Let It Snow!
has to be one of the most effervescent solo piano Christmas albums ever. Jazz-infused and energetic, Werner combines contemporary and classical as well as sacred and secular to create a collection that is both spiritual and full of fun.
The CD opens with Paul McCartney’s “Wonderful Christmastime,” in a lively arrangement that could even put The Grinch in a party spirit. “Let It Snow
” is a little bit blues, a little bit rock, and a lot spirited attitude - carefree fun! Werner’s version of “Do You Hear What I Hear?” takes this contemporary classic and gives it just enough rhythm and soul to make it jazzy while maintaining the original spirit of the piece. Werner based his piano arrangement of “Carol of the Bells” on a choral arrangement he wrote for an a capella jazz choir he used to direct. I’ve heard a LOT of different versions of this piece in a lot of different styles, but this is probably the most unusual. Next up is “Rudolf, the Red-Nosed Reindeer,” back in a playful mood with jazz and boogie styles - “Just me having fun” (from the liner notes). “You’re a Mean One, Mr. Grinch” started out as a blues piece and Werner really has a blast with it - my favorite track on this album. If you can listen to this without a smile, you just might be related to the dude it was written for! “O Come, O Come Emmanuel” is one of my favorite songs of the season, so I’ve heard and played many many versions. Werner takes the darkness of the piece and maximizes it. This arrangement also started out for choir, and it sounds like a real challenge to play all of the parts on solo piano! “Go Tell It On the Mountain” returns to Werner having fun. And then there is the 14 1/2 minute version of “The Twelve Days of Christmas.” Each “day” of the twelve is given a different style of music, from light jazz and pop, to kinda funky, to gospel, to rock and country, Latin, and beyond. It’s quite a tour de force, and apparently Werner had trouble remembering how many days he had done, so he decided to never perform it live. It’s a spirited and uplifting performance on this CD, though!
As I’ve stated in each of the reviews I’ve done of Wendel Werner’s music, he is one of my favorite artists and always brings something new and refreshing to the music. His Let It Snow!
will definitely add a new take on Christmas music for your own holiday season! Highly recommended and available from wendelwerner.com