John Baumgardner | My Sunday Best

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Spiritual: Inspirational Spiritual: Instrumental Gospel Moods: Featuring Piano
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My Sunday Best

by John Baumgardner

Quiet, contemplative, reflective, modernized piano arrangements of traditional hymns. Part church hymns. Part movie soundtracks.
Genre: Spiritual: Inspirational
Release Date: 

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1. Doxology
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3:43 $0.89
2. There Is a Fountain
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3:30 $0.89
3. Amazing Grace
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3:47 $0.89
4. At Calvary
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4:21 $0.89
5. Love Lifted Me
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4:51 $0.89
6. 'Tis Midnight & On Olive's Brow
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3:18 $0.89
7. He Leadeth Me
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4:24 $0.89
8. Jesus Loves Me
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4:38 $0.89
9. I Surrender All
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4:41 $0.89
10. Blest Be the Tie That Binds
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ABOUT THIS ALBUM


Album Notes
Pianist John Baumgardner releases his debut CD, "My Sunday Best." Often told to "slow down and stop playing so fast," John takes slowing down to the extreme on this collection. "My Sunday Best" is subtitled "Ten piano solos for the close of the day" and features fresh, reflective, modernized arrangements of traditional church hymns.

Growing up playing the piano in church, John started arranging music after he began to become bored with playing the same hymns over and over. "They had nice melodies and lyrics, but after hearing them so often, they kind of lost their meaning. If you're familiar with these songs, then hopefully these arrangements will breathe some new life into them for you. If you haven't heard of the songs, then hopefully they've been in adapted in a way that you'd never guess that most of them were originally written more than 100 years ago."


Reviews


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Review by Dan MacIntosh

Rating: 4 Stars (out of 5)
Artist: John Baumgardner
Album Title: My Sunday Best
Review by Dan MacIntosh


Just looking at the song list on John Baumgardner’s album My Sunday Best does a Baptist’s heart good. Contained within are many of the songs from childhood church, played instrumentally on solo acoustic piano. However, these renditions aren’t the by-the-book versions regularly played whenever the choir or congregation sang them. Instead, they are interpreted a little bit like the way a jazzman might approach them, without going too far down a new road. Yes, Baumgardner takes a lot of liberties with these songs, but as Chuck Berry once complained about jazz music, Baumgardner never plays these melodies “too darn fast.” He also remains very faithful to the original tunes.

There are places where the listener can distinctly hear the influence of modern day praise and worship upon Baumgardner’s interpretations. One of the loveliest moments comes with his take on “There Is s Fountain”. The introductory notes sound like David Crowder’s “O Praise Him”. Furthermore, it’s not hard to imagine someone like Chris Tomlin singing over it. After all, Tomlin recently released a popular rethink on “Amazing Grace”, so for him to also record “There Is a Fountain” wouldn’t be too much of an artistic stretch at all.

This pianist’s interpretation of “Love Lifted Me” is one of the most surprisingly unexpected turns. This song was always one of the more rollicking Sunday morning sing-alongs. Yet in Baumgardner’s light touch hands, the song takes on a gentle, George Winston feel. The love that lifts one during this recording is much closer to a ballet dancer lifting his ballerina, rather than, say, a football team hoisting up the coach after a big win. Almost equally surprising is the multiple note string that introduces “At Calvary”. This is one that Baumgardner probably takes the most melodic chances with. The melody is nearly unrecognizable during the initial flood of notes. Fans of acoustic piano music will love it. But your local church lady? Perhaps not.

On My Sunday Best, John Baumgardner has taken time-honored melodies and used his improvisatory skills to give them a unique new flavor. His results reveal how sturdy these melodies are in the first place. They may be sacred to many, but to music lovers, they’re just plain fine songs. The act of putting on the Sunday best is to get dressed in the best duds for church. And with this creative collection of reinterpretations, John Baumgardner has taken some songs that may look and sound old fashioned to modern ears, and made them look all fancy and new.


Review by Dan MacIntosh
Rating: 4 Stars (out of 5)