A Windham Hill Christmas
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The songs are familiar carols, but A Windham Hill Christmas retains the Windham Hill Winter Solstice series tradition of unusual arrangements and performances that evoke the mood of the season, especially if your take on that mood is a Northeast, snow-covered landscape, like that depicted on the Hallmark card-like cover. The usual bevy of Windham Hill sampler artists are all here, but it's some of the secondary cast that give the most innovative performances. Tracy Silverman & Thea Suits reinvent "Silent Night." With his pizzicato-delay violin, Silverman lays down a 6/8 rhythm while abstracting the familiar hymn across his bowed violin and Suits's flute, turning it into an ethereal instrumental chorale. Barbara Higbie re-ignites "In Dulci Jubilo" as a Celtic reel, overdubbing herself on piano, violin, Celtic harp and synthesizer. And W.G. Snuffy Walden lays some rustic acoustic guitar across a chamber reading of "The First Noel." There's a few clunkers, notably George Winston inflicting his Vince Guaraldi infatuation on us again; Jim Brickman with a rote reading of "O Holy Night"; and an uncharacteristically saccharine arrangement of "It Came Upon a Midnight Clear" by the usually sublime Tim Story. But Mom and Dad will like them, and they serve to highlight the inventiveness of the rest of A Windham Hill Christmas, which is nostalgic and atmospheric at the same time. --John Diliberto
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If you want the old favorites, the 12 usual Xmas songs, this may not be
the CD for you to buy. This is better than that.