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The Sounding Board by R J Lannan
RJ Lannan is the reviewer for The Sounding Board.
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Christmas from the Heart
By V/A
Label: Heart Dance Records
Released 10/21/2016
Christmas from the Heart tracks
1. Joy to the World
2. Angels We Have Heard On High
3. The Gift
4. Away In a Manger
5. Light to the World
6. First Light
7. Jingle Bells
8. God Rest Ye Merry, Gentleman
9. Ave Maria
10. Greensleeves
11. Silent Night
12. The Huron Carol
13. O Come O Come Emmanuel
Christmas from the Heart
Heart Dance Records is flutist Sherry Finzer's label and they put out some terrific music. Their latest offering is called Christmas from the Heart featuring thirteen tracks of traditional and New Age, maybe atmospheric, maybe folk holiday music. Truly the mix is wonderful and it covers all the bases of Christmas music with some winter music played on harp, piano, flute, guitar, and harmonica. It offers some of the best talents in the genre of contemporary sounds as well some that are new to me. Needless to say, all these fine musicians hail from the great state of Arizona.

Pianist Louis Landon starts off with a music box version of Joy to the World. This time, when you open the lid and hear the time honored melody, an angel is dancing in the box. Louis' performance is solid and his tempo is perfect for singing along. New to me is a duo called Thano and Lolo. They offer their dynamic version of Angels We Have Heard on High. They play Spanish guitar and harp and the combination is delightful. Their personal story is perfect for Christmas. Two kindred souls brought together by music. Yeah, I loved the O Come All Ye Faithful outro as well.

One of the best tunes on the album is from Art Patience. I was never enamored by the harmonica until I heard this rendering of a song called The Gift. I have never heard a more haunting harmonica melody until this breath taking song. I knew at once it was eponymous. One of the remarkable vocals on the album is from rocker Amber Norgaard (Unexpected Grace). Her song Light to the World is a folksy offering and a sweet story song. Her devotion to her faith is evident in between each word and phrase.

The holiday favorite, Jingle Bells is turned into a rollicking ditty by the talents of flutist Sherry Finzer, guitarist Darin Mahoney and percussionist Will Clipman. It a fun tune and frankly, I would have enjoyed a longer version.

You very seldom hear Ave Maria sung by a female voice, but Tatum Stolworthy makes it an emotional experience. Tatum Lynn is a wunderkind from Phoenix. She uses her beautiful voice to bring attention to her non-profit "Music as Therapy" that services underprivileged kids in Arizona. 10% of the proceeds of the album go to this more than worthy cause.

Guitarist John Calvert plays a traditional version of Greensleeves with aplomb and verve. How this old English folk tune got into the holiday repertoire I'll never know, but certainly Calvert's version is a gift to the season.

Nathan Tsosie renders a beautiful version of the 17th century Christmas hymn "Jesous Ahatonhia" or "Jesus is Born" otherwise known as the Huron Carol. The song is flowing and eerily beautiful on Native American flute. I do not think Father Jean de Brébeuf could have known how blissful his music would be in the hands of this talented flutist.

Finally, with an exquisite vocal, Amy Faithe renders an angst driven version of O Come, O Come Emmanuel. It is by far the best track on the album and one of the best interpretations of the song I have ever experienced. The Latin antiphon dating back to the 12th century is, under Faithe's heart wrenching vocal, poignant and rich.

Also on Christmas from the Heart are Cass Anawaty, who masters the album, Chris B. Jácombe, Greg Starr, Jocelyn Obermeyer, and Tom Moore. Sherry Finzer is the producer and it to be congratulated on putting together such a fine recording, one with enough variety to always sound fresh and true to the Christmas Spirit.

Highly Recommended
- reviewed by RJ Lannan on 12/12/2016
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