Christmas Encyclopedia: Advanced Piano Solos
1997 / Alfred Publishing
Review by Kathy Parsons
Tom Roed is my favorite arranger for more advanced pop, jazz, and Christmas music and his Christmas Encyclopedia is the ultimate collection of full, fun-to-play arrangements of forty-three solos and six duets. Usually in a collection this big, I’ll find at least half of the arrangements are duds, but there are only a few songs in this book that I really don’t like (and they are usually songs that I don’t particularly like anyway, not the arrangements!). I have used various incarnations of this book (there have been many over the years! This is the “complete” collection, at least up to 1997!) with my advancing students, and these pieces were wonderful in recitals because they are different, sometimes very spirited, and always showier than most standard Christmas collections and teaching books. I got a few standing ovations myself with the bluesy “Santa Claus Is Comin’ To Town,” the boogie-woogie “Rudolph,” and the wild and rockin’ “Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree.” Also on the fun, up-tempo side are “Grandma Got Run Over By a Reindeer,” “Up On the Housetop,” and “The Chipmunk Song.” Slower but still jazzy are “Christmas Time Is Here” (my favorite arrangement of this song!), “The Little Drummer Boy” (a student favorite), “Winter Wonderland,” “Patapan,” and “The Ukranian Bell Carol” - all exceptional. In the graceful and beautiful category are “Away In a Manger,” “What Child Is This?,” “We Three Kings of Orient Are,” “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas,” and the stellar (and difficult!) “O Holy Night.” More advanced players will find this book essential for holiday parties and there are plenty of sacred pieces for church musicians as well. I enjoy playing in a variety of styles, so this is my all-time favorite Christmas book. The arrangements vary in difficulty from intermediate to fairly advanced, and most of them involve a lot of chord reading and octaves. Love it!
November 3, 2008