Aspen Times Weekly: Jan and J.D.’s Christmas ‘Gifts’
If You Go …
What: Jan Garrett and JD Martin’s 24th Annual Winter Solstice Concert
Where: Aspen Community Church
When: Sunday, Dec. 21, 6 p.m.
Cost: $20, at the door
Husband and wife musical duo Jan Garrett and J.D. Martin spend a lot of time on the road. But each year they come home to celebrate the winter solstice with a concert in Aspen. Now in its 24th year, the performance blends their uplifting, genre-hopping songs with Christmas traditionals and pagan carols, complemented by a candle-lighting ceremony.
This year, the local pair is celebrating more than the holiday season and the solstice. They have a new album, titled “All These Gifts,” that includes 10 original seasonal songs, along with Garrett and Martin’s version of “Lo, How a Rose E’er Blooming” and “All Through the Night.”
With Celtic songs, gospel, some country and even a bossa nova, it’s a pretty audacious statement of a holiday record — with new songs and sounds for the season.
“How many times can you listen to ‘Little Drummer Boy?’” Garrett says of the original songs on the album “Everyone covers ‘Little Drummer Boy’ and ‘Jingle Bells.’ For us, it’s basically just about asking ourselves what the Christmas spirit is all about.”
In Garrett and Martin’s view that spirit is broader than the religious holiday celebrating the birth of Christ. Like their solstice concerts have traditionally been, they wanted “All These Gifts” to be an inclusive experience. The record includes two compositions — “Solstice Song and “Winter Solstice Lullaby” — that literally celebrate the time of year.
“So many other traditions celebrate this dark time of year, so we wanted to broaden out so that anyone can listen and get it,” Garrett said.
Garrett and Martin recorded the album in their studio here, but recruited national players to collaborate with them digitally. A penny whistle player laid down his tracks in Nashville. Harmony singers contributed vocals from San Francisco, Seattle, Oklahoma City and New Orleans.
The songs’ fluid movement between genres is a point of pride for the pair.
“We’ve been in the music business forever and been in so many different kinds of bands — from gospel and blues to country and swing, bluegrass and jazz,” she says “So we have to really listen and say ‘What style would bester serve the essence of this song?’”
The record opener, “Joy in Our Hearts,” is gospel-tinged blues song. “The Lucky Ones” is a dual country ballad. It’s less a Christmas song than a sweet one, ready-made for first dances at weddings.
“I just woke up one morning and said, ‘Oh, we’re the lucky ones! We get to live in this incredible valley and do music and we’ve got to write this song,’” Garrett recalls.
That one includes guest guitar from Brent Rowan, of Steamboat Springs, a longtime collaborator with the pair. Local music scene stalwart John Michel provides the drum beat on “Christmas Bossa Nova,” which has a classic sound to it despite the improbably combination of Brazilian jazz, Colorado musicians and Christmas.
“All of these songs, they come from a deep place of true life experience,” Garrett says.
“”Christmas Home Movies,” for instance, is a personal, nostalgic song about Garrett’s father filming her, her brothers and cousins with a Super 8 camera.
“I hope we nailed it to where someone can play it while they’re baking cookies and it’ll take them for a ride,” says Garrett.
“All These Gifts” is on sale locally at Explore Booksellers and Pitkin County Dry Goods, and online at http://www.garrett-martin.com
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Longtime Aspenite Mark Howard’s new memoir, “A Rewiring Life,” chronicles a life of change across five decades in Aspen.