Bringing a fresh approach to Christmastime standards like “Little Drummer Boy,” “Silent Night” and “The Twelve Days of Christmas” isn’t easy.
But in the hands of Grammy Award-winning pianist, composer and arranger Laurence Hobgood these well-worn favorites are given contemplative, improvisatory and playful renderings that let listeners hear them anew.
Hobgood’s 13-track recording titled “Christmas” has been released by Circumstantial Productions of Nyack and co-produced by Circumstantial founder Richard Connolly.
“Christmas” is chiefly a solo effort by Hobgood, who was the pianist and musical director for jazz vocalist Kurt Elling. And Elling joins him here on two tracks: “Song of the Christmas Bells” and Joni Mitchell’s “River.”
Reviewing the CD in “The New York Times,” Nate Chinen wrote of Hobgood: “For most of this beautifully recorded album, he’s alone at the piano, unspooling solemn reveries after the example of his north star, Keith Jarrett.”
“Christmas” is Circumstantial Productions’ second project with Hobgood: In February 2012, it released “Poemjazz,” a collaboration between the pianist and poet Robert Pinsky.
Among Circumstantial’s other releases is a far different take on holiday tunes: “Blue Xmas,” Bob Dorough’s story of his classic jazz tune recorded with Miles Davis.
Connolly and Circumstantial’s other publications include “Pizza,” poems by Nyack writer Michael Rumaker; and “What Does it Mean to be Human?” a collection of writing from a diverse international group of artists, authors, and activists including the Dalai Lama and Vaclav Havel.
To obtain a copy of “Christmas” by Laurence Hobgood and for information on Circumstantial’s other releases, visit http://circumstantial.us/