Album: Carla Bley, Carla's Christmas Carols (Watt)

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The Independent Culture

Not at all the jokey deconstruction you would have expected from the Bley of a few years ago, this collection of traditional winter warmers is played almost straight, and with considerable tenderness.

Bley on piano and celeste and her partner Steve Swallow on electric bass are joined by the excellent Partyka Brass Quintet, whose beautifully congruent parps supply the real seasonal jollies, from the hymnal purity of "O Tannenbaum" to the slushy schmaltz of "Jingle Bells". The project was originally commissioned for the Essen Philharmonic.