Jesse Brown | December

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Holiday: New Age New Age: Relaxation Moods: Solo Instrumental
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December

by Jesse Brown

Laid back solo piano Christmas arrangements.
Genre: Holiday: New Age
Release Date: 

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  Song Share Time Download
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1. O Holy Night
3:47 $0.99
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2. Angels We Have Heard On High
4:05 $0.99
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3. The First Noël
2:28 $0.99
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4. What Child Is This?
3:43 $0.99
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5. Lo, How a Rose E'er Blooming
3:48 $0.99
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6. 'twas in the Moon of Wintertime(the Huron Christmas Carol)
2:28 $0.99
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7. Shchedryk
3:16 $0.99
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8. God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen
2:59 $0.99
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9. O Come, All Ye Faithful(Adeste Fideles)
3:01 $0.99
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10. Silent Night
4:09 $0.99
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11. We Three Kings
2:31 $0.99
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12. O Come, O Come Emmanuel
2:30 $0.99
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13. It Came Upon the Midnight Clear
1:40 $0.99
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14. O Tannenbaum
2:29 $0.99
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15. Silent Night Blue
2:42 $0.99
Downloads are available as MP3-320 files.

ABOUT THIS ALBUM


Album Notes
The majority of the album "December" was recorded in the middle of the night at the home of Jesse Brown, while his family was sleeping, and with the constant support of his trusty soft-coated Wheaton Terrier, Fozzie Bear. The recording was made shortly after the passing of Jesse's grandfather. Silent Night Blue stands out as the composer's favourite, a last minute addition to the album.

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Reviews


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Donovan Johnson

Reviewed by Enlightened Piano
Every year many or our Contemporary piano artists release a Christmas/Holiday recording, and I look forward to listening to them. Few of them are able to describe in music what Jesse Brown has created in his 2012 offering, “December.” Simply put, this is an album that perfectly balances all that we associate with the wintry month that the album is named after.
There's a “coldness” to the early portion of “December,” a crispness in the playing style coupled with the occasional unconventional chord progression that creates a somewhat chilling atmosphere. As the album progresses it becomes atmospherically warmer and warmer, until we reach final track which is as inviting as a home full of loved ones on Christmas Day. There's nothing at all uncomfortable or piercing about these songs, or the album as a whole. Listening to the recording straight through is more like being bundled up outside on a cold winter day and making your way to a warm and inviting shelter. In this way Jesse's programming of the music from song to song couldn't be more thoughtful, and it makes for very effective listening.
The first of my top three songs on “December” would have to be track six, “Twas The Moon Of Wintertime,” which is based on “The Huron Christmas Carol.” Here we have a track with a very earthy and organic structure, full of dark tonality and a fairly brisk chord movement. Many influences go into this piece, from the original French composer of the song to the Native Canadian Huron culture with which he became familiar. Add to that Jesse's own influences and arranging capabilities and you find yourself with something truly fascinating to listen to. Images of sitting outside on a snowy night around a blazing fire are what come to mind here, along with a sense of mystery and uncertainty as to what lies beyond the dark. This is a track that I could listen to over and over.
“Shchedryk” is a popular Christmas carol that is today known as “Carol Of The Bells.” Jesse has chosen to use the original title of the song, which when translated from the original Ukrainian, means “Little Swallow.” This is significant, because the way the song is played (the mechanics of Jesse's playing) reflect that image beautifully. Jesse glides over the piano keys, flowing from note to note and from chord to chord. The left hand gently wisps between keys and progressions like a small bird in flight, with the right hand floating gently overtop. There's a nice deconstruction that takes place at the intro and in the middle of this arrangement, which builds the music nicely and creates a lovely view of takeoff from the perspective of a swallow beginning it's journey. Grey skies, impending winter, and a little bird following it's seasonal instincts are the setting here. This is probably my favourite track on the album.
Let's have a look at the final song on the recording, “Silent Night Blue.” Jesse changes things up completely with his nostalgic sounding, blues based arrangement of “Silent Night.” The familiar song is itself very easy to recognize, while surrounding the melody we hear the very gentle influences of honky tonk, New Orleans style jazz, and composer Vince Guaraldi. It's not necessarily an upbeat arrangement, but it's an enjoyable listening experience in a very casual and relaxing setting. Imagine “chill blues” meets “Silent Night” with a swing and you'll get the idea. It's a perfect ending to a well crafted album, as it invites you to have another listen, and maybe another after that. Pour yourself a scotch and enjoy!
If you're looking for something new to add to your holiday music collection, the simple truth is, you can't go wrong here. “December” is a well played and put together album, and a high quality recording of thoughtful Christmas arrangements. From classical influences, to jazz, blues and new age sounds, Jesse Brown has you covered and he's done it in a way that's blended and balanced. Sometimes when artists attempt to do this the album comes off as “forced” and diversified in an unnatural way. That is not at all the case here, and I would encourage you to have a listen and see for yourself. Whomever you are, “December” will make an excellent addition to your seasonal listening.
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Kathy Parsons

From MainlyPiano
December
"December" is the debut recording by Canadian pianist/composer/piano teacher Jesse Brown. Released in 2012, the album features fifteen of Brown’s solo piano arrangements of traditional Christmas carols. After reviewing Christmas albums for so many years on top of teaching Christmas music to my students for decades, I appreciate how challenging it is to bring something new and fresh to this music - especially the most often-heard carols - so I am blown away by how much I love this album! It isn’t that Brown’s arrangements are all that unusual - they are just so soulful and beautiful! The overall mood of the album is on the more quiet and contemplative side. A few songs have some jazzy passages and most have improvised sections, but the music has a wonderful grace and sincerity that allows the listener to hear the songs as new again. "December" is the perfect antidote for the frantic energy level the holidays can bring and is also a reminder of the reason we celebrate this time of year.

It is impossible to choose favorites on "December" because the whole album is so good. It begins with an original introduction/prelude to “O Holy Night” that sets a mood of reflection. The actual song is often performed with powerful drama, but Brown keeps it gentle with an emphasis on the haunting melody - a compelling opening track! “Angels We Have Heard On High” also begins with a prelude and weaves improvised passages between the verses of the song. “What Child Is This?” begins in a classical style with just a hint of a jazz rhythm. It’s amazing how Brown works in some blues chords here and there and how well they work! “Twas in the Moon of Wintertime (The Huron Christmas Carol)” isn’t as well known as most of the other songs, and is a very nice addition with its darker and more melancholy melody. “Shchedryk" is the original title for the carol better-known as “Carol of the Bells” or “The Bell Carol.” Always a favorite of mine and a piece that is adaptable to a seemingly endless number of musical styles, Brown’s arrangement is on the quieter and more graceful side - a beauty! “God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen” also lends itself to a wide variety of musical styles, and Brown’s arrangement is slower, a bit darker, and more compelling than most. His arrangement of “O Tannenbaum” is the bluesiest and jazziest track so far - totally charming! There are two versions of “Silent Night” on the album - the more traditional one and “Silent Night Blue.” The first is very gentle and hushed, and the second one closes the album with an anything but traditional arrangement. It is more of a blues/jazz waltz that is gentle, but also a bit edgy - a great close to an outstanding Christmas album!

I don’t know how I missed "December" when it was first released, but it’s never too late to share a wonderful new discovery! I give "December" my highest recommendation!
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