The companion songbook to Kevin Kern’s Christmas
album is a joy to behold! It contains all sixteen songs from Kevin’s first indie release, carefully and lovingly transcribed by Kern himself, ensuring that these scores are as accurate to the recording as humanly possible. As with his previous recordings and songbooks, Kern keeps the melodies of these traditional carols and songs simple, lyrical, and evocative. What makes this collection different is Kern’s use of jazz chords and voicings that gives some of the songs a slight edge and makes them distinctive. On the “Introduction” page, Kern gives some playing tips and suggestions that most pianists will find very helpful.
None of the sixteen songs are what I would call “easy,” but they are not terribly difficult, either. A few of the pieces are in keys that are a little tricky and some of the more complex jazz chords take a bit of study, but I would say that most pianists at an early-advanced playing level would be able to master these songs without practicing their fingers to the bone. There are a lot of chords - especially on the left hand - that have a reach of a ninth or a tenth, but Kern gives some tips in the “Intro.” for approaching those with smaller hands.
The book itself is spiral-bound and printed on a medium-weight paper that should stand up to years of use. The spacing is clear, roomy, and easy to read. Even more importantly, the music is FUN to play and very enjoyable to learn.
I’ll list the songs below with the number of pages and what keys they are in:
Angels We Have Heard On High - Key of Eb (3 flats) - 5 pages
Joy To the World - Key of F (1 flat) - 4 pages
Il Est Ne le Divin Enfant - Key of Bb (2 flats) - 3 pages
Away In a Manger - Key of G (1 sharp) - 3 pages
In the Bleak Midwinter - Key of Ab (4 flats)/E (4 sharps) -
4 1/2 pages
Good King Wenceslas - Key of Bb (2 flats) - 7 1/2 pages
Lo, How a Rose E’er Blooming - Key of A (3 sharps) - 3 1/2 pages
What Child Is This? - Key of C minor (3 flats) - 4 pages
Hark! The Herald Angels Sing - Key F (1 flat)/Db (5 flats) -
3 1/2 pages
It Came Upon a Midnight Clear -Key of Eb (3 flats) - 5 pages
O Come, O Come Emmanuel - Key of F minor (4 flats) -
3 1/2 pages
O Holy Night - Key of F (1 flat) - 5 1/2 pages
The First Noel - Key of Db (5 flats) - 4 pages
Tree - Key of Ab (3 flats)/ Db (5 flats) - 6 pages
The Holly and the Ivy - Key of Gb (6 flats)/ D (2 sharps) -
5 1/2 pages
Silent Night - Key of Ab (4 flats)/E (4 sharps) - 5 pages
This songbook is available from kevinkern.com
and Amazon.com. Very highly recommended!