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Joyous Mustard Seed Xmas CD

Published:Monday | January 4, 2010 | 12:00 AM

Marcia Rowe, Gleaner Writer

Members of the Fab Five Band (from left, back row), André Palmer (trumpeter); Franklyn Campbell (bassist and manager); Sidney Thorpe (keyboard player); Romeo Gray (trombonist). Front row: Donovan Palmer (keyboard player), Asley 'Grub' Cooper (drummer, lead vocalist, musical arranger); and Glenroy Samuels (guitarist). The group also worked on the Mustard Seed Community's 'Rejoice Out of Many One Christmas' CD. - Contributed

While Christmas is the most celebrated time on the Christian calendar, its short life span generally results in only a few songs being written annually. So the customary approach taken by most musicians is to find creative ways to dress up existing carols and songs. This was the approach taken by Mustard Seed Community (MSC) with their Christmas album, Rejoice Out of Many One Christmas.

The 35-minute and 14-second-long album comprises of popular Christmas carols such as Oh Holy Night, Angels We Have Heard on High and Go Tell it on the Mountain, and Christmas songs like Feliz Navidad. The carols and songs are all given various degree of reggae treatment - from an uptempo beat for In Excelsis Deo to the slow easy going beat of Irie Christmas. There is also the occasional steel pan colouring provided by the MSC Steel Band.

Jamaican flavour

But the strongest component of Rejoice Out of Many One Christmas is the natural richness of the vocalists, who are mainly children of MSC living with HIV/AIDS. With vocal ranges from alto to soprano, their singing personifies Christmas with a distinct Jamaican flavour. The performance of Irie Christmas with Grub Cooper is worth hearing. Vocal support also comes from Terri Johnson McLean.

Cooper and Johnson McLean are also credited for the musical and vocal arrangements, respectively. The band, Fab 5, provided the musicians, while Adriel Rankisssoon and Maria Christian are cited as being responsible for the steel pan arrangement.

The jacket of the album is attractively decorated with Christmas colours and symbols like the red poinsettia flower. Drawings of children depicting families, drawn by children of the community, give it the human touch. And the titles are easily identified with the names of the vocalists clearly presented.

Rejoice Out of Many One Christmas was recorded and mix at Stage Recording Studio and produced by Grub Cooper. The proceeds will go towards MSC programme for children with HIV/AIDS. So, get a copy, although the season is about over, your contribution will live on.