The classic sounds of Christmas music are always a joy, and this season they are reinvigorated with the new release by jazz pianist Rick Gallagher. A talented musician, Gallagher received deserved acclaim and airplay for his debut recording Sweet Potato Eyebrows,
which featured his own compositions as well as classics. With an approach in the Ellingtonian vein, he combines a fresh sound with a modern focus on swing and style.
A Sleigh, a Song, & a Baby Boy celebrates some of the many holiday favorites with his own vision. Gallagher's talented core of musicians return from his debut recording. The deep and full sound of bassist Paul Thompson continues to shine as he also gives strong solos on selections such as "Sing We Now Of Christmas" and "The Little Drummer Boy." Drummer George Jones keeps the band tight throughout the session with exquisite work from his kit, changing with the tempo and mood as needed. Percussionist George Jones adds his skill on a few selections with an assortment of instruments from bells to African drums.
Gallagher can swing with the best, but it's his delicate touch and arranging skills that separate him from the crowd. "Hark! The Herald Angels Sing" is a quiet and very profound example of his smoothness, as his playing exhibits restraint, depth, and also expressive freedom. "Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas" is just downright tight, showing off his compositional skills. The recording also features Gallagher in the solo spotlight on pieces such as "The Holly and the Ivy" and "O Come, O Come Emmanuel." His interpretations range from the playful and airy opener, "Sleigh Ride," to the earthy and funky sounds of "God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen." If you're looking for a nice mix of loved holiday classics wrapped in a discriminating jazz package, then look no further.
Personnel: Rick Gallagher - piano; Paul Thompson - bass;
Thomas Wendt - drums; George Jones - percussion