It is not all that often that an album of Christmas cheer receives accolades well before the release date, but Michael Kollwitz’ latest album Santa Plays the Stick, did just that and as each of the traditional and non-traditional songs unfurl, it is very easy to see why this album has attracted such attention.
Commencing with the traditional Away in a Manger, the Chapman stick gives this much-loved song a rather exotic touch. Pile of Presents which follows certainly sounds as if it has come straight from a carol session in Hawaii coated with the almost exotic richness that comes from the topical ambience of the area.
I Saw Three Ships has been given a fresh new vibe turning this carol into a piece that has folkloric stamped all over it, taking it back to its origins when it was first penned in the 17th century.
A particular favourite Deck The Halls now comes in a delightfully upbeat style, catchy and yet holding true to the original melody, with a bit of modern ‘funk’ added, along with some intriguing vocal backings.
December Wedding is a slightly slower, very melodic piece which, while not strictly a Christmas carol, adds another dimension to the sequence, displaying the range of the instrument and the talent of Kollwitz to almost make his beloved Chapman Stick talk.
The uplifting carol Joy To The World dances across the Stick, adding a lovely dash of seasonal cheer to once again a traditional and well-loved melody, with the very clever additions of carefully selected tempos delivering a definite feel of celebration to come.
As with the beginning of the album, a much loved and sung traditional carol has been selected to draw to a close, a truly magical selection of carols that can not help but bring happiness and joy into the season.
Silent Night composed in 1818 by Franz Xaver Gruber, to lyrics penned by local priest Joseph Mohr, in the small town of Oberndorf bei Salzburg, Austria, was written specifically to convey a message of hope to the everyday people at Christmas time.
Kollwitz could not have selected a more perfect piece of which to conclude this magical work, as in this time of global unrest, it is lovey to have this message of hope, penned so many years ago, offered once again at a time of year when celebration and refection is foremost.