Christmas Music - Pop Instrumentals

Instrumental Pop Christmas CD Review

Review by Jonathan Widran

for Smooth Jazz News, Issue No.23, December 2001

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Christmas, The Hymns CD Review

On Greg Vail Music, 2000

Of course it is more tempting for sax lovers to stuff their stockings with the best selling Kenny G, Dave Koz or Boney James CDs, but this smaller indie release by one of smooth jazz’s most durable saxmen is a spirited delight on par with those.

Vail and his right hand man, Rob Mullins, vary the mood nicely, from the frantic, classically tinged soprano-driven opening track “Deck The Halls” (complete with an explosive synth orchestra) to the gentle, reflective “What Child Is This.”

“God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen” and “Joy To The World” balance tender soprano melodies with seductive light funk grooves.

Vail adds a sweet wistfulness to “Silent Night” by choosing to go with flute.

He opens “O Holy Night” with an ominous atmosphere featuring a distant alto flute intro before easing into the main, soft rhythmic tune on soprano.

On the cover of the disc, Vail’s “featuring Rob Mullins” credit seems to give the keyboardist an almost equal billing; the tandem is in perfect synch on the simply arranged, gorgeous piano-soprano duet of “Hark the Herald Angels Sing.”

Mullins adds some exotic chimes and percussion textures to a dreamy rendition of “We Three Kings.”

The variety will more than hold the listener’s interest even as we wonder why he’s wearing sunglasses on a project celebrating songs usually associated with cold and snow.

This CD is available through Vail’s website at

by Jonathan Widran


Jonathan Widran is a writer for numerous national and local publications.

Widran writes for JAZZIZ magazine, Smooth Jazz News, Contempo articles, internet reviews, and online CD retailers to mention but a few.

His contribution to Smooth Jazz has been significant, and this review is very appreciated.

Thanks Jonathan!

Special thanks also to Melanie Maxwell at Smooth Jazz News for publishing the above article in her December 2001 issue.

Update October 28th, 2005

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