Ottmar Leibert,
Christmas Santa Fe
(Epic, 2000)

This terrific release by acoustic new-age guitarist Ottmar Leibert was my favorite new Christmas release of 2000. On every track Leibert plays his usual laid-back guitar while briefly blending his own original compositions, all with titles related to the season, into the midsections of traditional holiday tunes that include "The Holly and the Ivy," "Deck the Halls," "What Child is This," "Silent Night" and nine others.

The percussion is tastefully light, maintaining a jazzy beat while using bongos and other assorted beat keepers in lieu of full drum kits. Deftly placed muted horns embellish many of the airy arrangements. This disc is great as background dinner music or for roasting chestnuts over Nat King Cole's open fire while opening romantic Christmas presents with your sweetie.

Christmas Santa Fe is just a tad better than his 1991 Christmas release, Poets and Angels, Music 4 the Holidays, because its song selection is better and the slightly southwestern feel it offers the listener (hence the title) makes it far more original than most acoustic guitar-oriented albums. A pleasure all around.

[ by Charlie Ricci ]
Rambles: 14 December 2001

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