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CD Title: A Vision of the Season (Cat# 884502243710)

Genres: (Christmas/Holiday) Instrumental / World / Easy-Listening
Release dates: October 26, 2009 (Digital) / November 23, 2009 (Physical)
James Specialty Co.
P.O. Box 656
Paradise, CA 95967 USA
1 (530) 877-9682

News Release (Click here to download MS Word Doc.)


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Photo credit: Rexene Collier

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Photo credit: Rexene Collier

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Illustration credit: Steve Graham

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Illustration credit: Steve Graham

Brockton James Bio (Click here to download MS Word Doc.)

Interview (Or click here to download MS Word Doc.)

How did this particular project come about?

Well, for years I've wanted to record a collection of traditional Christmas songs, all with a non-traditional "reimagining" if you will. I wanted to have some fun and experiment with different combinations of orchestral, folk and ethnic instruments, and create a unique presentation of textures and rhythms for each song. This project really became a wonderful creative journey, and the best way I can describe the end result is: easy-listening with a folksy/world edge.

They're all instrumental pieces?

Yes, although I do "hum" at the beginning of "O Come All Ye, Faithful." (Laughs.) But this is one reason why I selected these particular songs--they all have great melodic value and are timeless! I wanted to focus on this aspect of each song without regard to the lyrics. I think anyone who has heard my work over the last decade, will assume this to be an instrumental project.

In addition to the traditional songs, you have a couple of originals...

Yeah, I composed two songs for this CD, "A New Tradition" in 2007 and "The Bells of December" this year. "A New Tradition" is a classical piece very much in the tradition of the Holiday classics of yesteryear. "The Bells of December" is more of a modern, upbeat experimental piece with orchestral elements, along with electric guitars, piano, sax, bass and ethnic percussion. Like I said, the song was largely an experiment, but I've gotten a great response from it so far!

You wrote "A New Tradition" in 2007--you've been working on this project for a while!

I certainly have! In fact, the entire project took a little over two years to complete! I did have some other projects going at the same time, but I managed to work on this project whenever I could. I didn't keep track of time, but I'm sure I have well over 2000 hours of work invested in this endeavor! I always like to take my time with a project, anyway, but in this case, I had a deadline. So I spent most of this last summer and into the fall working practically day and night to get it completed. The Holidays sure approach quickly! (Laughs.)

You mentioned your two originals. What are your favorites from amongst the other songs?

Short answer? I like them all! (Laughs.) But I especially like how "Angels We Have Heard On High" turned out. I used it as a pre-release promotional single, in fact. It's largely orchestral, but has ethnic hand percussion, which adds a "world" edge to the orchestra. It features a very different arrangement from what people are used to hearing! I also like "The First Noel," which is kind of a folk/world blend of acoustic guitars, mandolin, harmonicas, concertina, organ and again, ethnic percussion. I think it's a very unique sound for that particular song. But my all-time favorite is, "O Holy Night." This is a well-written song--a timeless melody. I kept this fairly traditional though. I play an alto sax lead, with a full orchestra accompaniment. I think people will enjoy it--I think people will enjoy the entire album for that matter!

You've produced an interesting version of "The Twelve Days of Christmas" too...

Well there are a lot of versions that have been done over the years, and I think there have been more comedy versions of this song than any other Christmas song! But I wanted to produce an instrumental version that was interesting and light-hearted, without being too whimsical. I've taken the most commonly-known lyrics, and have represented each "item" with a musical, or rhythmic passage. For example, French horns represent "French hens," a bass clarinet for the "turtle doves," wood blocks for the "ladies dancing," and so forth. I put a lot of time and thought into this one, but it was a tremendous amount of fun to record!

How many songs are there?

There's fourteen total--twelve traditional pieces and the two new originals.

Where is the CD available?

It's currently available from CDBaby.com and Amazon.com. It can be downloaded from popcuts.com, and it will be coming soon to all the popular download sites, like iTunes, Napster, Rhapsody, etc. Most "brick and mortar" record stores should be able to order it as well! People are welcome to visit the website, avisionoftheseason.com for updated availability details and to hear song samples. And for this year, anyone who orders directly through my company will get free shipping.

Obviously, releasing a CD requires a tremendous amount of promotional work too, and I understand you do most of it yourself...

I do. And these days 90% of it is done online. It's vital for artists to establish a strong online presence nowadays, utilizing their own website, social networking sites, download sites, etc. I'm also a website designer and have done promo work for clients, so I feel I have a "leg up" in this area. Still, it's very time-consuming, and can take a few weeks of work for a new CD release. In fact, it can take a few years for an artist, or any business for that matter, to become established online! As an example, I've had CDs available on Amazon since 2001, and just this year they set up an official "Brockton James store." (Laughs.)

So are you "Christmased" out? Any plans for future Holiday-related projects?

You know, even though I've been immersed in Holiday music for two years, I never tire of it! I can listen to these songs year-round! (Laughs.) In fact, many of these traditional melodies started as other seasonal folk songs centuries ago, but later evolved and became associated with the Christmas season. And in answer to your other question, yes! Absolutely--I am planning a second Holiday CD. I already have a list of songs, in fact! But I'm currently focusing on other projects, so we're probably looking at around three years down the road.

Further questions--please email to address above.


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