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Pianist Joshua Bowlus Spreads Christmas Cheer With New Music

Pianist Joshua Bowlus Spreads Christmas Cheer With New Music

Courtesy Aaron Wendler

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His intricate excursions are well developed spontaneous compositions which show a remarkable maturity and musical intellect.
—Rick Grant, Entertaining U
With a long overdue follow-up to his debut album in 2014 (What a Wonderful World), Joshua Bowlus collaborates again with vocalist Linda Cole to create a fresh offering of Christmas classics. This time, about half of the tracks feature Linda while the rest are instrumentals. The album cover showcases Joshua sitting at a grand piano full of wrapped gifts, as if the piano itself was a sleigh and the gifts contain the joyous music which will abound.

Joshua has surrounded himself with a top-notch cast of musicians. Ben Adkins on drums is a chameleon on the instrument, maintaining a remarkable sensitivity for playing ballads while bringing high energy and swagger for up-tempo and groovy tracks. Stan Piper is the solid rock of this band, providing a steady pulse on the low end while driving interaction between all of the players. Juan Rollan is a fiery, soulful addition to the group and takes each song to new levels. Linda Cole (of Illinois’ legendary Cole Family Singers) is an amazing storyteller with her authentic and soul-stirring lyrics.

Bowlus’ arrangements add a fresh pop of color to a wide variety of popular Christmas melodies. The title track “Sleigh Ride” is reharmonized and rhythmically restructured in an exciting and soulful way. Joshua‘s use of Fender Rhodes on tunes such as “Frosty the Snowman”, “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas”, and “The Great Pumpkin Waltz” gives way to a more modern, electric sound. Juan is a stand-out featured soloist over an uber-tasty version of “I’ll Be Home For Christmas,” preceded by a gorgeous piano/sax duet of Mariah Carey’s “All I Want For Christmas.” The set ends with two incredible ballads—an emotional and haunting take on O Come, O Come, Emmanuel, followed by the quintessential closer—The Christmas Song. Sure to be a staple every holiday season, this adventurous ride deserves multiple listens.

Sleigh Ride is streaming everywhere, and limited CDs will be for sale online. Mark your calendars to see this band perform songs from the album, live and in person. The album release celebration concert takes place on December 2nd at the brand-new Chez L'Amour, a swanky jazz club in St. Augustine, FL. The performance will consist of two sets from 7pm. Purchasing tickets in advance is highly recommended.

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