Imagine Christmas

1 Posted by - September 21, 2017 - Blog, Featured

Good news! I’m involved in multiple Christmas albums this year!

First, Sono Luminus, the record label I work for, has been working on a Christmas album for the past several years. As artists have come through the studio to record their “real” projects, we’ve also asked them to record a Christmas tune for our super-duper Christmas sampler. Two-and-a-half years in the making, the result is Imagine Christmas, or…honestly, Christmas-as-you’ve-never-actually-imagined-it. (Did you imagine you needed to hear “Frosty the Snowman” on Irish flute and bodhrán? Or that you needed to hear a drone version of “Silent Night” played with plucked piano?)

Want to hear it?
Pre-order from Amazon here, or search Spotify or Apple Music after October 28th.

Want more info? See the press release below.

And yes, I said “multiple Christmas albums.” The other is my album of solo piano arrangements of Christmas favorites. Stay tuned for more on that.


Media Contact: Paula Mlyn
Phone: (212) 924-3829

September 30, 2017

, A fresh take on music for the holiday season reimagined by some of the label’s top artists

NEW YORK, NY –On October 28, 2017, Sono Luminus releases IMAGINE CHRISTMAS [DSL-92216] a new album featuring twelve Christmas classics re-imagined by some of the label’s top recording artists: Ensemble Galilei, Bruce Levingston, Irina Muresanu and Matei Varga; Jasper String Quartet, Ronn McFarlane, Cory Hills, Kathryn Bates, Caleb Nei, Cuarteto Latinoamericano (with guest Lydia Lewis, percussion), Stewart Goodyear, Skylark Vocal Ensemble, and ACME. The recording was produced and mastered by the GRAMMY® winning team at Sono Luminus studios: Dan Merceruio, producer, and Daniel Shores, engineer.

Two years ago, Sono Luminus’ CEO Collin Rae and producer Dan Merceruio began asking artists coming to record at the label’s renowned studio to considering providing a track for a new kind of Christmas-themed album. Tired of the usual Christmas fare released by record companies year after year, he says, “They could do anything they wanted with a Christmas classic, as long as they put their individual stamp on it.” Artists were intrigued. “Imagine a Christmas in which every carol is this inspired,” writes critic, musician, and composer Doyle Armbrust in the album’s notes. “Imagine Christmas is my antidote,” he continues, “a single album that balances out the fluff that is headed our way this, and every, season.”
The album opens with Ensemble Galilei’s take on “Frosty the Snowman” which, Armbrust writes, is “like devouring an entire Buche de Noel, with none of the regret or need to go up a pant size.” Next up, celebrated American pianist Bruce Levingston returns to the standard piano literature for his contribution: December: Christmas, the twelfth piece from Tchaikovsky’s set of twelve short piano works The Seasons. Irving Berlin’s much-beloved “White Christmas” (arranged by the great Jascha Heifetz) is given a lush and stylish reading by two superb performers who are new to the Sono Luminus label: Romanian violinist Irina Muresanu and pianist Matei Varga.  Johnny Mark’s jovial classic “Holly Jolly Christmas” follows with a lilting and jazzy performance by the Jasper String Quartet. Written by Howard Blake for the 1982 animated children’s film The Snowman, “Walking in the Air” is presented by longtime Sono Luminus recording artist, lutenist Ronn McFarlane in a beautifully ethereal arrangement.
The next two tracks feature artists who are members of the Los Angeles Percussion and Del Sol String Quartets: The multi-talented percussionist and composer Cory Hills (of the Los Angeles Percussion Quartet) brings his flair to the only spoken word offering of the disc with his rhythmically ‘hip’ delivery of “’Twas The Night Before Christmas”, followed by “Santa Claus Is Comin’ to Town”, imagined as if “we are tucked into a bed of extravagant resonance and spinning arpeggios,” Armbrust writes, featuring cellist Kathryn Bates (of the Del Sol String Quartet).
The Mendelson and Guaraldi hit “Christmas Time Is Here” is sensitively arranged by jazz pianist (and Sono Luminus’s design and media relations guru) Caleb Nei. In the hands of the four members of Cuarteto Latinoamericano with guest percussionist Lydia Lewis, the reverent hymn “Joy to the World” becomes astonishingly festive, replete with “Latin grooves and twitching bow hair,” writes Armbrust. Canadian pianist Stewart Goodyear (who earned accolades in the 2016 holiday music season from The New York Times and a Juno nomination for his sweeping solo piano transcription of Tchaikovsky’s complete ballet, The Nutcracker) delivers his offering of “Good King Wenceslas”, only as “a piece that conjures up sonic impressions of dauntless backup vocalists carving out the harmonies.”
The album’s final two offerings create a pairing of the traditional and the new. The Skylark Vocal Ensemble performs the classic Hugh Martin and Ralph Blane Christmas hit “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” in a captivating arrangement by Peter Mansfield. The final track in the Sono Luminus collection is a remarkable re-working of “Silent Night” by the acclaimed American Contemporary Music Ensemble [ACME]. Doyle Armbrust notes, “Perhaps the furthest distance from what we might think of as ‘Christmas music,’ this meditation on one of the season’s most stirring melodies is simply ravishing.”
Frosty the Snowman 2:36
Ensemble Galilei

December: Christmas 4:08
Bruce Levingston, piano

White Christmas 3:41
Irina Muresanu, violin and Matei Varga, piano

Holly Jolly Christmas 2:15
Jasper String Quartet

Walking in the Air 2:54
Ronn McFarlane, lute

‘Twas The Night Before Christmas 3:56
Cory Hills, percussion

Santa Claus Is Comin’ to Town 2:32
Kathryn Bates, cello

Christmas Time Is Here 3:06
Caleb Nei, piano

Joy to the World 1:45
Cuarteto Latinoamericano (with Lydia Lewis, percussion)

Good King Wenceslas 2:55
Stewart Goodyear, piano

Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas 2:42
Skylark Vocal Ensemble

Silent Night 5:54
American Contemporary Music Ensemble

Total time 38:16

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