Bryan Lubeck, Welcome Winter Review
Welcome Winter by Bryan Lubeck is a holiday album that stands out for its innovative interpretations of classic carols and its addition of compelling original compositions. Lubeck is renowned for his fusion of contemporary pop, new age, and jazz on traditional melodies, bringing us a fresh perspective to holiday music.
The album opens with a vibrant rendition of “Deck the Halls,” where Lubeck’s warm acoustic guitar melds seamlessly with Joel Norman’s vibraphone, Nick Bisesi’s flute, and Erik Rumsa’s violin. The creative arrangement is anchored by Neil Artwick’s supportive piano playing. With their melodically rich and texturally intricate solos, Rumsa and Bisesi add vivid colors and textures to the piece.
In “God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen,” Lubeck delivers an interesting contemporary arrangement marked by multiple layers of guitars and strings. His performance is notably expressive, with modern rhythmic and harmonic embellishments. The melodic solo features expressive slides and bends, showcasing Lubeck’s versatility.
The title track, “Welcome Winter,” is a Lubeck original that stands out for its melodic finesse and compositional fluidity. It exemplifies Lubeck’s ability to craft melodies that resonate with the listener, adding a personal touch to the album.
“The Christmas Song,” a duet between Lubeck and Salazar, is a highlight of the album. Lubeck’s guitar provides a graceful backdrop to Salazar’s warm flute tones, navigating the changes with well-voiced, arpeggiated chords.
Lubeck gives “Jingle Bells” a contemporary rock feel, with rhythmic elements reminiscent of 50s rock. This innovative approach adds a unique twist to a well-known holiday song, making it both familiar and fresh.
“What Child Is This” opens with a gorgeous solo guitar introduction. The second performance of the theme is enriched with added percussion and layered guitars, enhancing the classic melody.
“Mary Did You Know” is another standout, featuring acoustic guitar and rich strings. The arrangement builds momentum, presenting a moving interpretation of the song. The cello and percussion add a fresh, textured sound, perfect for holiday festivities.
Finally, “Carol of the Bells” is a fusion of contemporary jazz, folk, and traditional holiday music, marked by lush arpeggiated guitar chords and mellow strings. The flute contributes an additional layer of tonal color, complemented by Lubeck’s exquisite guitar solo that blends jazz with Spanish guitar influences.
Overall, Welcome Winter brings Bryan Lubeck’s ability to infuse traditional holiday music with a fresh, contemporary spirit that pulls from pop to jazz influences. The album is a must-listen for those seeking a modern twist on holiday classics, offering a wide variety of comforting and festive sounds.
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November 3, 2023