Music Media Monthly

Rick Anderson

The last entry from the jazz side is a little bit of a curiosity. On Song of Simeon: A Christmas Journey, (self-released, catalog number 008) the Will Scruggs Jazz Fellowship seeks to convey “the profound, spiritual mystery of the radical Biblical story of the birth of Christ.”

The album’s eleven tracks are presented in a two-part program organized around a line from the book of Luke: “A light to enlighten the nations and the glory of your people Israel.” But although the artists’ intentions are explicitly programmatic, the music itself is pretty abstract: tunes like “O Come, O Come Emmanuel” and “Go Down, Moses” are treated in standard jazz style, their melodies used as heads on which protracted solos are based. The result is an album of technically and artistically advanced modern jazz that occasionally makes explicit reference to Yuletide themes. It’s an impressive album, but maybe not the best choice for a holiday party. (Nor, in fairness, was it likely intended to be.)

Music Media Monthly: Sound Recordings