|Christmas | Posted January 09, 2012
I'm unfamiliar with California worship leader Jadon Lavik, so I greeted his release, Christmas without any preconceived ideas. With Christmas songs though, comes tradition. And with tradition comes expectation. When traditional arrangements and melodies are altered, the results may please some while leaving others reaching for Nat King Cole or Perry Como to find satisfaction.
Jadon Lavik's approach on Christmas is non-traditional. With the exception of "Mele Kalikmaka," and the Lavik-penned "Hallelujah the Lord Has Come," the songs are traditional. But Lavik's arrangements are often unique. The acoustic album has an organic and often jazzy feel, and the opener, "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas," sets the mellow tone for what is to come. Next is Lavik's original worship tune, "Hallelujah the Lord Has Come," followed by a jazzed up "Little Drummer Boy" that adds guitar and horn to the familiar percussive rhythms.
The spare "I'll Be Home For Christmas" is the album's standout track. The quiet piano accompaniment allows Lavik's vocals to shine through unhindered. He sings a straight-ahead version, in keeping with the song's original spirit. Lavik then shifts gears to bring us an uptempo, poppy rendition of "Silent Night." While non-traditional, the increased tempo works here to give the album a needed infusion of energy and joy. The female vocal accompaniment is also welcome.
Lavik's arrangement on "Christmas Time Is Here" is true to the familiar Guaraldi Trio's. But while I applaud him for taking chances, I find Lavik's arrangements are not uniformly successful. On "O Come All Ye Faithful," his inclusion of a jazzy vocal "fa la la...la la la..." interlude ultimately removes the power and majesty from this song. "Joy to the World" similarly suffers from its laid back presentation. "Go Tell It on the Mountain" is an annual favorite of mine, but I didn't enjoy Lavik's changes on his folky version. The altered melody and tempo diminish the joyous feeling the song usually inspires.
Lavik wraps up Christmas with a ukelele on "Mele Kalikimaka," and finishes with energy and electric instruments on "Winter Wonderland," a spirited pop confection that again includes a female guest vocal.
If you're a fan of acoustic music, particularly if you like jazz, you'll enjoy Christmas, Jadon Lavik's mellow holiday presentation. While lovers of jazz and fans of Lavik will enjoy the album as a whole, others may prefer a more traditional approach to their Christmas standards. The album's most immediately accessible tracks, "Winter Wonderland," "I'll Be Home For Christmas," and "Silent Night," should be enjoyed by all merry Christians.
Comments (0) | Add Comment | Is This Review Helpful? Yes | No