December 4th, 2010, Charles Xavier – “Xmas Vibe”
The Buttonwood Tree, Middletown, Ct.
Mini-Vibraphone: Charles Xavier
Vocalist: Marcelle Gauvin
Guitar: Felix Rentschler
“The ear is the only true writer and the only true reader.” – Robert Frost
The Buttonwood Tree’s art-style living room created an intimate ambiance for Charles Xavier’s Christmas avant-garde compositions. The setting proved to be an eclectic backdrop for the Charles Xavier, Xmas Vibe performance on Saturday, December 4th, 2010 in downtown Middletown. The proximity to Wesleyan University, famous for its renowned world music program, lent musical credibility to the evening’s proceedings.
Charles Xavier’s Christmas CD, Xmas Vibe is a mixed media abstract expressionist work. It contains a combination of traditional Christmas songs which are first framed and then extended through various treatments a la musique electronique (Edgar Varese).
The music format took on unique blends as the ensemble varied between Charles Xavier using a Mac Book computer for orchestral accompaniment and a primary focus with the mini-vibraphone. Charles’s role as jazz musician, composer, and arranger generated intriguing waves of energy. The various soundscapes guided the listener through new ways of interpreting old and familiar holiday classics.
Charles and his fellow musicians grounded us in such Christmas favorites as Silver Bells which allowed for the painted scenery to be enhanced with sensations’ of Oriental strivings, sharply accented by Church tower bells. It was a total sensory experience immersing audience members in layers of textured sound, allowing the mind to escape to new realms of serenity.
Charles Xavier and his group made effective use of mixed media especially when it combined spoken poetry offset by vibraphone peels and pinpoint electric guitar riffs. The selection Round Hill featured the poetry work of French poet , Charles Baudelaire’s The Enemy (1821-1867, Paris ,France).
The renditions of Christmas songs were a savored treat. Let It Snow conjured up the vision of jazzy feel sleigh ride across new fallen snow. A highlight of the evening was the Peanuts ,Charlie Brown classic by Vince Guaraldi, Christmas Time is Here. One could just tell this was Charles favorite piece as it is mine.
Felix Rentschlers’s efforts on the guitar were soft, yet melodic, achieving an astral plane when the tonality required. The slide guitar on the Christmas hymn, Silent Night was very poignant and lifting.
The metaphor that Felix and Charles established was both complimentary and evidenced precision in their craft.
Marcelle Gauvin’s vocals were a smart, added touch and she accented the holiday songs with a nightclub jazzy essence that contributed just the right musical collaboration layer to the mix.
There were several other Christmas selections performed that evening, such as Oh Christmas Tree with a French accordion technique that literally transported us to a riverboat on the Seine. O Holy Night fit in perfectly as the standard we all know and love.
The evening ended with an original composition by Charles Xavier, entitled Christmas Day is Almost Here. A wonderful composition that is evident of the joys and merriment that Christmas brings us young and old. Fittingly this selection closed out the evening as we thanked our musical trio, our host, Anne-Marie Cannata of The Buttonwood Tree and headed out into the mist of a New England holiday evening.