Bryan Lubeck, Welcome Winter Review
Holiday Harmonies: The Elegance of Bryan Lubeck’s Welcome Winter
by Sylvannia Garutch
In contemporary instrumental music, Bryan Lubeck has established himself as a maestro of melding romantic Spanish guitar with urban grooves. His latest offering, Welcome Winter, is a much-anticipated follow-up to his acclaimed holiday album We Three Strings. Released on November 3, 2023, under VMP Vineyard Music Productions, the album is a compelling blend of holiday classics and original compositions, all refracted through Lubeck’s unique acoustic lens.
Welcome Winter is an acoustic program of songs that interlaces Lubeck’s signature Spanish guitar stylings with an ensemble of violins, cellos, dulcimer, melodica, percussion, vibraphones, and other unique acoustic instruments. This ensemble breathes fresh life into traditional compositions, offering a contemporary perspective on classics like “God Rest Ye Gentlemen,” “The Christmas Song,” and “Deck the Halls.” Notably, the GRAMMY-nominated saxophonist Nick Bisesi contributes his flute expertise, adding another layer of richness to tracks such as “Deck the Halls” and “Carol of the Bells.”
The album contains an intriguing rendition of “God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen,” where Lubeck’s expressive and contemporary melodic performance is layered with guitars and strings, showcasing his ability to blend traditional themes with modern sensibilities. “Jingle Bells” is presented with a relaxed contemporary rock feel reminiscent of 50s rock. This track exemplifies Lubeck’s skill in infusing new life into well-known melodies.
“What Child Is This” stands out for its gorgeous solo guitar intro and the enriched second performance of the theme with added percussion and layers of guitars. The arrangement is thoughtful, allowing the listener to appreciate the nuanced additions without losing the essence of the original composition.
“Carol of the Bells” is a highlight, featuring lush arpeggiated guitar chords and mellow strings. The fusion of contemporary jazz, folk, and traditional Holiday music creates an enchanting soundscape. The addition of the flute, alongside Lubeck’s Spanish guitar-influenced jazz solo, renders this track a particularly memorable piece.
The album is envisioned by Lubeck as an “auditory journey” – a phrase that rings true as each track unfolds like a path through a winter landscape, leading listeners to a place of warmth and festivity.
Lubeck’s Welcome Winter is a holiday album that brings a storied sonic exploration that intertwines diverse genres and traditions, embodying the warmth and nostalgia of the holiday season. Each track, rich in Lubeck’s signature fusion of styles, invites listeners into a world both familiar and refreshingly innovative. As a significant addition to Lubeck’s discography, Welcome Winter showcases his continued evolution as an artist and is a delightful companion that enriches the holiday season.