This is from another of my favorite Christmas albums, by an artist I like very much but who isn't that well-known, Butch Thompson. So, it fits into that category of our festival very nicely.
For quite a few years, early in its run Butch Thompson was the music director of A Prairie Home Companion, and one of his trademarks was playing in a Dixieland in what's known as "stride" style. This is from a recording of Christmas songs done in that stride style, called, Yulestride.
What I most like about the recording is its freshness. It's a tricky thing with Christmas recordings. Most are just pretty straight-forward arrangements that are familiar and comfortable. Stray too far off that path, and you risk the artistic sin of drawing attention to yourself and away from the work. The "I'm being different for the sake of being different" syndrome. The new arrangements aren't inherently valid for the music, but just because the artist didn't want to be The Same. I find these arrangements by Butch Thompson, though, to be vibrant and thoroughly joyful interpretations of the familiar, that bring out different sides to the music.
This is probably my favorite selection from the album, "It Came Upon a Midnight Clear."
And as a bonus, here's another cut, more low-key, but full of richness and texture, "God Rest Ye, Merry Gentleman." you like this sort of thing as much as I do and want to hear more, you can find it here.
Robert J. Elisberg is a political commentator, screenwriter, novelist, tech writer and also some other things that I just tend to keep forgetting.
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