12 Christmas Picks

Jim Cornwell

An acoustic, instrumental collection of 12 traditional Christmas Carols that have been tastefully arranged for acoustic steel string guitar and mandolin.

This is an acoustic, instrumental collection of 12 traditional Christmas Carols that have been tastefully arranged for acoustic steel string guitar and mandolin. These internationally well known melodies have survived since the 14th Century and continue to bring the original joy and true meaning of Christmas to a modern day world that so desperately needs “peace on earth and good will toward men.”

As advertised in the 2008 October, November, and December issues of Bluegrass Unlimited magazine, this is Jim Cornwell's fourth CD release and again is an instrumental compilation of tunes featuring steel string acoustic guitar and mandolin. Jim is primarily a bluegrass guitar flatpicker, but wanted this CD to have a “traditional feel” with the taste and respect of Classical or Baroque music with a Renaissance twist! Jim fingerpicks many of these tunes, but still provides lots of flatpicking. Those familiar with Jim’s other CD’s will remember how he used this technique in recording Pachebel’s Canon in D, Bach’s Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring, and Minuet in G. This Christmas CD stemmed from Jim’s frustration with not being able to find an acoustic instrumental Christmas album that had arrangements where the melody was easily recognized by the "common" listener. Frequently, instrumental arrangements are so complicated, artistic or “jazzy”, they often succeed in only manifesting the virtuoso capabilities of the musician, and sacrifice the crucial melody in the interpretation. This can cause the loss of a connection between familiar music and the non musician or "common audience." Jim’s arrangements are “simple” in terms of retaining the melody, but “complex” enough to remain pleasing to the ear and interesting even after repeated listening. Anyone can sing along to their favorite tunes without getting lost. “12 Christmas Picks” provides great background music for decorating the Christmas tree, Christmas shopping, traveling to visit family and friends, and of course opening Christmas presents, but it could also be used in the foreground whenever and for whatever the listener deems necessary!

Jim likes to play his two Collings guitars against each other on most tracks. A D-1A mahogany for the high and mid ranges, and a D-2HBaaaA Brazilian rosewood for the mid and low ranges. This is especially striking on track #5 “Silent Night” and track #10 “O Come All Ye Faithful.” Jim’s favorite, track #8, “Come, Thou Long Expected Jesus” incorporates the use of rounds and blending melodic lines against each other using his Collings MF-5 mandolin. The familiar “Carol of the Bells”, track #11, plays nicely as guitars and mandolins echo each other in harmony. To bring things full circle, Jim starts and ends track #12, “Bring a Torch, Jeanette Isabella”, with the simplicity of a solo guitar. Jim also uses his 1942 Martin D-18 and his 1921 Gibson A-4 to give the listener an authentic vintage tone. All tracks were digitally recorded "clean" with no effects, in the uncompressed linear 16-bit mode, and were closely miked, using a Neumann KM-184 condenser microphone, in an attempt to capture the true acoustic "live" sound of the instruments.

These beautiful “Christmas” melodies are worth hearing year round and shouldn’t be restricted to just the month of December!

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