Brian Culbertson – A Soulful Christmas

Brian Culbertson
A Soulful Christmas
(GRP – 2006)

The disc features modern arrangements of classic Christmas carols and a new holiday tune, “All Through The Christmas Night,” sung by Michael McDonald.

Culbertson brought in many friends to create a holiday mood on this uplifting CD, including special guests Eric Darius, Warren Hill, Peter White, and Marc Nelson. Many top musicians contributed to the Christmas cheer, such as Vinnie Colaiuta, Nathan East, Jeff Lorber, Eric Marienthal, and Ricky Peterson, among others. It’s also a family affair; Brian’s wife, accomplished opera singer Michelle Culbertson, performs a beautiful rendition of “Some Children See Him.”

A Soulful Christmas starts off with a gospel celebration of “Joy to the World,” which leads into a lush instrumental version of “Deck the Halls.” Some of the other holiday favorites Culbertson revisits on the album include a mellow “Little Drummer Boy” and a heartfelt telling of “The First Noel”; both tunes highlight Culberton’s outstanding piano work. Culbertson turns up the funk on “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” and “Jingle Bells,” both performed here as instrumentals. The traditional “Angels We Have Heard On High” is presented here tenderly, but builds to an orchestral fullness.

“All Through The Christmas Night,” written by Culbertson and Nelson, is a powerful piece, and is sung by the legendary Michael McDonald. Destined to become a holiday favorite, the song’s lyrics reflect how love can bring peace, especially at Christmastime. “Christmas means nothing at all/unless love hears when you call/You’re always there on Christmas day/holding me tight/all through the Christmas Night.” Another more modern tune selected for this record is Donny Hathaway’s appropriately groovy “This Christmas.” The final tune on A Soulful Christmas is “Silent Night,” featuring beautiful vocal harmonies by Marc Nelson.

In addition to releasing the CD, Culbertson will embark on the A Soulful Christmas Tour, a contemporary jazz all-star show, beginning at the end of November. The show also features vocalist Bobby Caldwell, saxophonists Eric Darius and Warren Hill, and guitarist Ray Parker, Jr. Dates, venues, and more information can be found at