Now, i am no Christmas album aficionado, but having worked in record stores for 13 years or so in my younger days, i certainly heard my fill of holiday music. Most of it was, and is, horrible. But hearing Skafish's 2006 release Tidings of Comfort and Joy was refreshing, as well as both comforting and joyful.
Alternately titled A Jazz Piano Trio Christmas, Skafish has put together one of the most original, brilliantly arranged, and beautifully played Christmas albums ever. Supported by session musicians Lawrence Kohut on basses, and Tom Hipskind on drums, Skafish takes you on a Christmas music journey via the A-train, with musical nods to many great Jazz giants, while also inflecting his piano parts with strikingly inventive chord forms and shimmering glissandos.
Recorded at Chicago Recording Company, and produced by Skafish himself, the sound quality is superb, every instrument captured in perfect proportion and clarity. It is very easy on the ears indeed, and allows one to concentrate totally on the music.
Each track begins with an original introduction before launching in to a traditional melody, and then proceeds with variations and improvisations. This approach gives the music a serious and introspective feel that one doesn't usually associate with modern interpretations of Christmas music.....in other words, this ain't no Kenny G Christmas! Far from it. For me, this album has joined Vince Guaraldi's A Charlie Brown Christmas as being the two most interesting, listenable, and original holiday music albums ever recorded.
Well done Jim Skafish. I hope the world will hear more of your great music from the past, and i hope you make some more great music in the future.