372

Butch Thompson/Laure Sewell: Bethlehem After Dark

Mark Corroto By

Sign in to view read count
Butch Thompson/Laure Sewell: Bethlehem After Dark
A master at the soon-to-be lost art of Ragtime piano, Butch Thompson takes a relaxed view of holiday music. The Minnesota-born pianist was a regular on Garrison Keillor's A Prairie Home Companion radio show for many years. He lasted quite a lot longer than my tolerance for Keillor's good clean fun. He went on to tour with trumpet legend Doc Cheatham, front a New Orleans revival band and consult on the Broadway show Jelly's Last Jam about the life and times of Jelly Roll Morton.

His prior Christmas album Yulestride (1994) was a solo effort. Here he enlists the help of fellow Minnesotan and cellist Laura Thompson. They cover the usual 'Angels We Have Heard On High,' 'Ave Maria,' and 'Joy To The World' and a few unusual tunes like James P. Johnson's' 'Snowy Morning Blues,' and Joseph Lamb's 'Reindeer Rag.' With the addition of Sewell, Thompson doesn't have to carry the day and relies on Sewell for textures and selected solos. Thompson is able to gear down from the frenetic nature of ragtime and stride piano for these mostly medium tempo renditions.

Sewell's takes the melody on 'I've Got My Love To Keep Me Warm' and floats without undo sentimentality, as does Thompson throughout. Seems these days every country star, child (read Lolita-wannabe) rock star, and aging jazzbo is recording their versions of the maudlin holiday classics. Sorry, but those sap-filled treats are what brought on the Grinch in the first place. I prefer the less is more approach of Thompson and Sewell.

Track Listing

Bethlehem After Dark; I?ve Got My Love To Keep Me Warm; In The Upper Garden/Only A Look; Reindeer Rag; I Wonder As I Wander; Angels We Have Heard On High; At The Christmas Ball; Lo, How A Rose; Joy To The World; Carol Of The Birds; Softly And Tenderly; Snowy Morning Blues; Coventry Carol; Ave Maria.

Personnel

Butch Thompson: Piano; Laura Sewell: Cello.

Album information

Title: Bethlehem After Dark | Year Released: 2000 | Record Label: Daring Records

Post a comment about this album

Tags

Shop Amazon

More

All About Jazz needs your support

Donate
All About Jazz & Jazz Near You were built to promote jazz music: both recorded and live events. We rely primarily on venues, festivals and musicians to promote their events through our platform. With club closures, shelter in place and an uncertain future, we've pivoted our platform to collect, promote and broadcast livestream concerts to support our jazz musician friends. This is a significant but neccesary effort that will help musicians now, and in the future. You can help offset the cost of this essential undertaking by making a donation today. In return, we'll deliver an ad-free experience (which includes hiding the bottom right video ad). Thank you.

Get more of a good thing

Our weekly newsletter highlights our top stories and includes your local jazz events calendar.