"Given the well-deserved accolades and popularity of Isadar's distinctive piano style, I'm sure that fans will want to include O Christmas in their collection, and make it a part of their holiday tradition." -- Michael Diamond, Music and Media Focus
Artist, musician and record label owner (Mainya Music), Isadar, released a new Christmas CD, after coming off of a highly acclaimed chart-topping CD, Reconstructed. His gift to you is one with a new, invigorating, fresh, holiday-themed solo piano album, entitled O Christmas. This is his second solo piano, as the first, called In Search For the Meaning of Christmas, came out in 1999 which contains 11 tracks.
When I asked Isadar what was different about this new holiday album, he said that it, "consists of 10 arrangements of public domain works," and that "the CD contains some not-so-popular songs, and off-the-beaten-path choices, even a non-Christmas children's song, 'Teddy Bear's Picnic' mashed up with 'March of the Toys' from the operetta Babes in Toyland."
Mashing is one of today's new ways of mixing music and piano, and Christmas is no different. He has a unique style, no doubt, and a break-through ability to remain in the mainstream, and not do what everyone else does. He marches to his own beat. He was voted in for the Grammy's, which ended October 31st for the first round of ballots. His previous Will Ackerman-produced CD, Reconstructed (Solo Piano) was submitted for consideration into five categories for this year's Grammy awards. He told me that the album O Christmas took seven years to make, and that a lot of experimentation, thought and care went into it.
I found this album carried an overall tone that is uplifting, rhythmic and upbeat. Isadar says of that description, "That honestly surprised me. Generally, my piano music in this genre is more pensive and reflective, although that aspect is certainly included here as well in a few of the tracks." The closing track on the album, "Merry Christmas... And a Happy New Year" is, in his opinion, his best work to date. He says that the song, "Masters in This Hall" has quite a masculine tone, and lends itself well to the lyrical concept of the original piece. "Greensleeves 2012" is a revisit and an evolved arrangement based on his earlier version. Both versions are inspired by Liz Story's brilliant take on this timeless piece. Isadar said (chuckling), "I think I got it right this time."
There is a Puerto Rican Christmas carol, "Song of the Wise Men" of the lesser well-known, yet equally just as inspiring. Another title, he says, called "Still" is a paradox. The original, "Still, Still, Still" is a very delicate lullaby to the infant Jesus, with lyrics that are very sweet. His arrangement is completely, shamelessly jazzed up, and is the complete opposite of a lullaby. Isadar felt it was important to stay away from typical Christmas songs, yet he tried to keep a balance of some familiarity. All songs were favorites from his childhood. "I really listened to all of these works a lot, and they resonate deeply within me -- particularly 'Song of the Wise Men' and 'Masters in This Hall,' which I studied while playing oboe as a teen." He is certainly a "master" of the piano.
Christmas is usually portrayed as a children's holiday, and many hymns are addressed to children. "O Come Little Children," based on a carol from the 1800s, plays beautifully for children and adults alike. This is a holiday album for all ages, and rings in the new year with adorned hope, faith and love as Isadar's music will certainly feed one's soul. Coming up next is the release of Red (Piano) on February 5th, 2013, and out November 6th you can get O Christmas.