2. Away In A Manger
3. We 3 Stringz
4. God Rest Ye
5. Silent Night
6. Carol Of The Bells
7. Joy To The World
8. Little Drummer Boy
9. O Holy Night
10. Christmas By The Cement Pond
11. We 3 Stringz (radio edit)
Drew Davidsen's new Christmas CD features inspired performances setting the backdrop for a wonderful holiday season, evoking rich textures and new reveries in these brilliant, classic melodies. 'We 3 Stringz, ' features guitarists Chuck Loeb, Paul Jackson, Jr. and a host of wonderful Nashville session players, released just in time for the upcoming holiday season.
Drew Davidsen is a Smooth Jazz guitarist, inspired by and in the tradition of George Benson. And, while far too much Smooth Jazz is stripped of all personality resulting in the blandest form of pablum, this cat can flat-out play. The arrangements, by and large, are fresh, Drew's guitar playing is fantastic, the production is top notch, and the surrounding musicians bring their best game. The title track is the clear standout and "Carol Of The Bells" swings mightily as well. Sure, the music here is smooth, but Drew never loses sight that it is first and foremost Jazz. In fact, it would be a tremendous mistake to dismiss this album as Smooth Jazz, given that the two tracks I've already mentioned, plus "God Rest Ye" swing about as hard as anything you'll hear on a Christmas record. You're going to want to pay attention to the rest of the album, as well; there's a lot more going on here then you might at first suspect.
You should definitely be able to pick up on the George Benson influence, particularly on "We 3 Stringz", but you'll also catch echoes of Lee Ritenour and Pat Metheny as the album unfolds. Considering Drew didn't take up the guitar seriously until he was in his 20s, he's scary good. Can't overlook the supporting cast here either. Craig Nelson does some sublime things with the bass, and Pat Coil, frequently more restrained on his own albums, cuts loose with some crazy, wild, mad skills on the piano.
The album does have a couple of things that didn't work for me (your mileage may vary); "Silent Night" presented to an island rhythm just wasn't to my taste at all (I wish, after the recording, they'd stripped everything away leaving just Drew's guitar and what I suspect would have been very effective "white space") and "Christmas By The Cement Pond", the album's lone original (which begins with a lick borrowed directly from Pat Metheny), is a fine enough tune but just doesn't come off as a Christmas tune. Of course, writing an original jazz instrumental and making it sufficiently Christmasy is a puzzle that has vexed many a jazzman through the ages.
All in all, Drew Davidsen's "We 3 Stringz" is a wonderful ride. I wouldn't have missed it for the world.