Andre Thibault,
A Tropical Christmas
(Prism Leisure, 2005)

The title of this album is a bit misleading. At least it was to me. I had assumed the songs would be carols born and bred in the Caribbean, but the songs here are of English/European origin that have been latinized by flamenco and Latin guitar. Nevertheless, A Tropical Christmas is a wonderful instrumental album.

Andre Thibault has taken such well-known traditional songs as "We Wish You a Merry Christmas," "O Come All Ye Faithful," "Deck the Halls," "Jingle Bells" and "We Three Kings," and kicked them up a cultural notch.

Some songs seem especially suited to flamenco guitar. Listening to "God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen" reminded me of an old Elizabethan lute. Strangely, other songs, like "Greensleeves," were unrecognizable on first listening.

This album is definitely for a bilingual, multicultural setting. Those in the English tradition will recognize their beloved carols, and those who belong to the Latin American or Spanish culture will love the home sounds of their native guitar styles.

Other musicians on the soundtrack include Celso Machado on sourdo, shaker, maracas, kanjira, tambourine and percussion; T-Bo on guitar, frame drum, maracas, shaker and tambourine; Qiu Xia He on Chinese flute; J Pepe Danza on udu, shaker, guiro, castanets, bells, clave, zarb, tea cups, birimbao and cajon; and Sid Perez on keyboard and bells.

by Carole McDonnell
29 April 2006