Collection: A New Century Christmas

COMPOSERS: Various
LABELS: Channel Crossings
WORKS: Various pieces, various arrangers
PERFORMER: New Century Saxophone Quartet
CATALOGUE NO: CCS 14698

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The New Century Saxophone Quartet is a breath of fresh air. ‘It’s just not in our nature to do any project in a “standard” sort of way,’ claims an introductory note. Thankfully this means more than just wearing sunglasses indoors – which the group likes to do in photographs.

Authenticity is a low priority. Indeed, the disc A NEW CENTURY CHRISTMAS is unique among this crop for not being rooted in the music of the past or attempting to evoke a mythical golden age of happier, more authentic Christmases. It presents amusing and ingenious arrangements of Christmas tunes by a diversity of living composers, and the results are fun and original.

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One of the arrangers, Lennie Pickett, explains: ‘My least favorite holiday is X-mas. After that comes Thanksgiving and then Easter.’ Pickett has the right idea. By refusing to be gulled by the Christmas hype, the quartet has created something fresh and irreverent – and it will probably still sound good long after the turkey has become soup.