A Christmas Collection is a 2-volume recording designed to present to the public one man's private collection of rare and unusual stringed instruments. Collector, recording artist, and "armchair musicologist" Gregg Miner has drawn on his diverse musical experience and his avid interest in stringed instruments of every description to produce this project. To accomplish it, Miner systematically restored, re-strung, and researched playing techniques of each of his 100 instruments, most rare, and some, truly one-of-a-kind. He then performed on each in a solo, duet, or ensemble setting. Encompassing two volumes of music, these 27 unique holiday arrangements are just part of the package; in addition, each instrument is pictured in full color and described with whimsical affection by Miner in each of the 52-page companion booklets (one for each volume). This unprecedented recording and book have captured the attention of a surprisingly wide audience, from musical instrument enthusiasts to people of all interests. Definitely not just another Christmas album!
My candidate for most fun disc of the season is A Christmas Collection, Vol. I and II, featuring the Miner Museum of Vintage, Exotic and Just Plain Unusual Instruments (Miner Music). For this album, performer and curator Gregg Miner restored and restrung more than 100 rare and exotic instruments and just to make it more of a challenge, he plays each of these instruments only once on the 27 songs on these two discs. What's here? Martin and Knutsen guitars to die for, everything from balalaikas to zithers, Gibson mandolins, banjos and harp-guitars, lutes crumhorns and tambourines, octophone, oud, saz and dumbek, and much, much more. The music ranges from Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring to Sleigh Ride to classic carols to The Chipmunk Song. The liner notes are great reading, the photographs are terrific, and Miner is a first-rate musician. This is one wonderful surprise after another, a delightful treat amid so much same-old, same-old Christmas fare and a can't-miss gift idea. --ST. PETERSBURG TIMES
Gregg Miner is a collector and player of an extraordinary variety of old, rare, and unusual acoustic instruments, and this two-disk set of mostly familiar European and American holiday tunes offers a tour of his personal museum. Miner plays over a hundred different instruments on the 27 tracks, usually overdubbing numerous parts, and given their diversity - harps, zithers, tiples, octophones, sitars, and ouds, assorted medieval, Latin American, and Eastern instruments, as well as various guitars, banjos, and mandolins - his versatility and virtuosity is nothing short of amazing. The history of each instrument is detailed in the well-illustrated accompanying booklets, which could be read alone as mini-textbooks. This project will be of greatest interest to fellow instrument collectors and music historians, but the graceful and diverse instrumental arrangements stand on their own as well. --Tom Nelligan, DIRTY LINEN
New releases every collection should have: the two-disc set of traditional Christmas songs from Gregg Miner, with a twist. Miner is a collector of "vintage, exotic and just plain unusual musical instruments" and he utilizes them to their fullest on these discs. Just about every kind of stringed instrument you can think of shows up and Miner mixes them beautifully while showcasing the unique characteristics of each. Both CDs come with illustrated, 50-page booklets explaining each song and the instruments that were used. This set is a must for every collector of stringed instruments. --20TH CENTURY GUITAR