Somehow, Christmas just seems like a “jazzy” time of year more than any other for me. Most of my favorite Christmas recordings are jazz, and a good portion of the Christmas music I hear on the radio is jazz-oriented as well. However, I think the connection between Christmas and jazz goes all the way back to my childhood when learning to play the piano. I had two favorite Christmas books that I played from every year, and both were set in jazz styles.
Christmas with Style by Jerry Ray was (and still is!) my absolute favorite. I would just sit at the piano and play straight through the book, from one arrangement to the next. It is a great book because the piano parts are not difficult to play at all, and yet they offer a rich set of sophisticated harmonies. I can remember my family telling me how much they enjoyed listening to them when I played them at our house.
The other book that I frequented at Christmas time was Tom Roed’s Advanced Piano Solos: Christmas Edition. These arrangements were more difficult, and my favorite part was that each piece was treated in a unique way. Sometimes you get Christmas books where all the songs sound the same, but that was not the case with this one – each arrangement has it’s own individual style, with a creative take on a traditional Christmas tune.
I’m hoping that our latest book, Worship in a New Key – Volume 2, will become for you like these other books have become for me. We believe that Christmas is the perfect time to introduce jazz music into the church, and we hope that the arrangements in our latest volume will give you the jumpstart that you need to make it happen. We have tried to come up with an individual, creative take on each tune, and yet we have given you many options for performance so you can best adapt the arrangement for your individual setting. Our hope is that you can use this book to enhance your worship in the Christmas season through jazz, and that maybe the sound of jazz at Christmas time will become a new tradition at your church.