Scott Gordon

Merry Christmas

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Pianist Scott Gordon is joined by some friends and the Nightingale Children's Choir for an album of traditional and commercial music dedicated to celebrating the Christmas season. Some tracks have just Gordon playing with his stylish piano technique. The most ear-catching of these is a jazzy "Santa Claus Is Coming to Town" and a bouncy "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas." These tunes sound like Bill Evans might have played them if Evans played Christmas music. The simplicity of these renderings is contrasted with a string-backed version of Claude Thornhill's signature song, the lovely, enchanting "Snowfall." Thornhill, who used to play this tune with one finger, might be taken aback by the production piece it becomes here. Electronically created chimes are brought into play for the "must" piece for most Christmas albums, "Silent Night." The Nightingale Children's Choir contributes a rather hectically arranged, awfully busy "I Wish It Was Like Christmas Every Day." There's also a Leroy Anderson-like orchestration of "Attention Shoppers." It's just hard to tell how much of it is generated by Gordon's friends and how much by some computerized gizmo. A jaunty, close to down-and-dirty "Winter Wonderland" is one of the more light and entertaining cuts on this CD. All in all, this recorded nod to Christmas is a mixed bag. Some tracks are quite fresh and entertaining, others get thick and dense, overburdened by a heavy load of instruments, real and artificial. Gordon should have stuck with what works for him, namely his fine piano, and leave the pretentious stuff to others. Come to think of it, maybe he did and that's the problem.

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