I love Christmas music. From the day after Thanksgiving until the end of the year, it is all that gets played around my house. So I’m always on the lookout for new holiday releases to add to my collection. On A Winter’s Night from John Reischman and the Jaybirds is the most refreshing Christmas collection I’ve heard in a long time. It collects eight songs of the season that are not the same old, same old.
These aren’t just Christmas tunes played in a bluegrass style. They are folk songs on the subject of Christmas. From the lead-off “I Heard From Heaven Today” to the closing song, each tune resonates with a joy and spirit of the holiday. Bass player Trisha Gagnon sings most of the leads, with guitarist Jim Nunally adding “A Roving On A Winter’s Night.” Instrumentals “Breaking Up Christmas” and “Christmas Eve” showcase Reischman’s mandolin, Greg Spatz’s fiddle, and Nick Hornbuckle’s banjo to rousing effect. The band gangs around for a quartet on “Oh Mary, Where Is Your Baby,” with Jim on the lead. The closing track, “Shine Like A Star In The Morning,” strips down the instrumentation to just guitar and mandolin to showcase another quartet, this time with Trisha taking the lead.
Several of these selections are pulled from the American Folk Songs For Christmas album by Mike, Peggy, and Penny Seeger. The songs here deserve to make it into the regular Christmas music canon, and this CD may help put them there. (www.thejaybirds.com)CAH