Jazz Noel is a combined set of DVD and CD from a live concert in a high-definition theater with 5.1 sound.
These discs capture a band that has been swinging the season’s joy every Christmas Eve since 1999. Dubbed “The Christmas Eve Band,” the special edition ensemble is led by Bill Carter, pianist and founder of the Presbybop Quartet.
“These are some nearby friends who help me ignite the late-night celebration at my church in northeastern Pennsylvania,” Bill notes. “People are quickly defrosted by the energetic joy of this music. It’s my favorite night of the year.”
There certainly was “Joy to the World” in the high definition studio of WVIA when this set was recorded for a live audience. That joy was the swinging marriage of Christmas mystery and merriment, of melodies from ages past and new tunes that sing of the Christmas present. The enthusiastic crowd received the wonder of the season as a gift that night, and celebrated this “Jazz Noel” with broad smiles and rousing applause.
Composer, arranger, jazz pianist, and church pastor, Bill Carter leads this band of talented revelers through his arrangements of carols and holiday classics. The musicians are Mike Carbone, saxophones; Tony Marino, bass; and Marko Marcinko, percussion, with special guest Jeff Stockham, trumpet and flugelhorn. And when guest vocalist Warren Cooper adds his voice, it’s as rich as Christmas pudding!
The music that filled the studio that evening included echoes of the Nativity’s joy to the whole world. As you will hear, there are English carols, Afro-Cuban rhythms, Mid-eastern dances and Scottish jigs, and good old American swing.
As I listened from the crowd that night and enjoyed this joyous performance, I realized the jazz musicians’ instruments surely echo the sounds of ancient biblical lutes, harps, trumpets, cymbals, and drums. Maybe there is nothing new here, except the exciting new sounds of syncopation and improvisation. Then again, as in Christmas itself, maybe everything is new. Merry Christmas and Happy New Everything!
- Jeff Kellam, on behalf of Presbybop Music