WHAT THE CRITICS SAY
Reviewer: Carol Swanson, ChristmasReviews.com
Christmas Light is an instrumental CD that provides something for everybody.
Canadian Steve Holt has enjoyed much acclaim for his jazz artistry, and he demonstrates that talent here. The CD, however,
goes well beyond traditional jazz concepts. The artist injects a broad range of musical genres, peppering the CD with moments
of pop, country, rock, folk, new age and, of course, jazz. In addition to putting together the varied arrangements, Steve
plays all of the instruments himself, including synthesizers, piano, and percussion. It's an appealing package. When I first
picked up this CD, I must confess that I had some doubts. After all, the cover features an individual who appears to be in
deep meditation, and I feared that the music might lack personality or even be sleep-inducing. As it turns out, I should not
have worried. From the first cut to the last, Christmas Light brings life to standard holiday offerings through innovative
arrangements, and it always keeps you guessing regarding what style will present itself next. For example, The Little Drummer
Boy opens the CD with a relatively straightforward drumbeat and melody line, then transforms into jazzy synthesized improvisation.
The tones of Coventry Carol are much more serious and staid; still, the music moves through creative cycles within those confines.
Since I adore jazz piano, I found We Three Kings to be a special treat; its rich and warm jazz treatment had me tapping my
toes. Some songs are certainly more low-key than others; O Come All Ye Faithful is a high-energy affair, whereas God Rest
Ye Merry Gentlemen is darker and more subdued, although it still reflects fascinating twists and turns in the underlying melody
line. Folk music stylings are abundantly apparent in What Child Is This, and the treatment is gorgeous. Christmas Light closes
with a lovely, pristine and relatively unadorned version of Silent Night-a fitting close to a fine set. Because the CD embodies
so many varied styles, it is difficult to pin down the approach at any given moment. This makes the Themes & Variations
part of the title particularly appropriate. Steve Holt's innovations enhance the strengths of these holiday numbers, never
obscuring the natural beauty of the selections. So kick back, relax, and enjoy the many faces of Christmas Light.