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JFH Music Review

David Ian, Vintage Christmas Wonderland

David Ian
Vintage Christmas Wonderland

Genre(s): Christmas / Jazz
Album length: 11 tracks: 34 minutes, 5 seconds
Street Date: September 24, 2013

Good Christmas music can sometimes be hard to find. An artist can take a beloved holiday tune and by merely adding their "spin" to it - destroy it. They will take liberties with these precious songs and tamper with the melody, alter the music, and in the end completely ruin it. But with David Ian, that is not the case. His captivating 2011 release Vintage Christmas nostalgically grabbed listeners from beginning to end and, continuing in that trend, is this years EP Vintage Christmas Wonderland.

The album begins with the warm and smooth "Angels We Have Heard On High." The slick entrance of the piano sets the stage beautifully for the charming vocals of Acacia, who was featured extensively on Ian's previous release. With an ever so slight melodic change in the "glo" of "Gloria, in excelsis deo," it gives it a less liturgical sound and more of a laid back jazz feeling. Ian's respect for the nostalgic sound really shines through and his intimate approach is an excellent way to begin an album.

This go-around, Ian provides only two instrumental tracks, "O Little Town of Bethlehem" and "The First Noel." Both are very reminiscent of Vince Guaraldi's work on A Charlie Brown Christmas. These tracks are simplistic in presentation but have layers of complex jazz rhythm. Honestly, the lack of vocals actually enhances the experience as they are very relaxed easy-listening moments.

"Winter Wonderland" features the return of another David Ian collaborator, Mr. Andre Miguel Mayo. His sultry vocals really add richness to the song. Mayo's voice doesn't try to emulate other contemporaries such as Michael Buble or Jamie Cullum - his tone is original and very soothing. In addition, musically, the song is fantastic. A major compliment should be given to the percussion of this song - it showcases elegant and restrained use of instrumentation. Concluding the album is an energetic rendition of "Jingle Bells." Its bubbly feeling is an outstanding note to bring the EP to a close, and by the end you'll be singing along with Acacia and special guest, her sister and co-leader of the group Tal and Acacia, Tal as they cheerfully sing, "J-I-N-G-L-E bells."

David Ian has without a doubt made another collection of songs that should be added to the family holiday playlists. The only real complaint with this latest release is that it is so short. It comes and goes faster than the holiday season and leaves listeners wanting more. However, if Ian's plan were to release a Vintage Christmas EP annually for a number of years - he will most definitely capture more and more followers with each release. Nevertheless, this album is a must-have and surely makes for the most pleasant listening experience. Start up the fire, go get a blanket, put a cup of hot chocolate in your hand, and sit back to start this Christmas season off right with David Ian and the gang.

- Review date: 10/5/13, written by Ryan Barbee of

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JFH Staff's Second Opinion

Dave Ghazarian, most famous for his guitar work with Church of Rhythm, Superchick, and most recently, Audio Adrenaline, left his listeners with shock and awe with Vintage Christmas two years ago under the name David Ian. A full-on excursion in piano-led jazz Christmas music, it was unlike any other Christmas album released by his contemporaries, and in 2013, he's back for round two, albeit a shorter one. Vintage Christmas Wonderland proves to be an accomplished EP with five delicately constructed tracks to expand Ian's repertoire of Christmas favorites. "O Little Town of Bethlehem" and "The First Noel" both improvise upon the songs' traditional structures with practiced jazz techniques, while "Angels We Have Heard on High" and "Winter Wonderland" see the return of guest vocalists Acacia Wulfing and Andre Miguel Mayo, respectively. "Jingle Bells" sees both Mayo and the full Tal & Acacia duo combined for a refreshing take on the fun classic. While this EP largely continues the creative direction that Vintage Christmas started, it serves to solidify David Ian's concept into something stately and reliable that seamlessly combines the solemn and energetic sides of Christmas music. The best news, of course, is that this EP signifies that David Ian's project was no one-time deal, and with a Valentine's Day offering promised for 2014, there's no better time to get acquainted with David Ian's work and bask in the nostalgia within. Both this EP and its full-length predecessor are essential listening for this season, and with the Christmas music cycle barely begun, Vintage Christmas Wonderland is going to be a tough act to follow. - Roger Gelwicks, 9/26/13


. Record Label: Prescott Records
. Album length: 11 tracks: 34 minutes, 5 seconds
. Street Date: September 24, 2013
. Buy It: iTunes
. Buy It: Amazon Music (MP3)
. Buy It:

  1. Angels We Have Heard on High (featuring Acacia) (2:45)
  2. O Little Town of Bethlehem (3:25)
  3. Winter Wonderland (featuring Andre Miguel Mayo) (3:04)
  4. The First Noel (4:05)
  5. Jingle Bells (featuring Andre Miguel Mayo with Tal & Acacia) (3:02)




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