Sultans Of String
Album: Christmas Caravan
Label: Self Released
Sultans Of String deliver originals, world-music inspired classics, and seasonal favourites on this truly unique and diverse global album.
I wanted to write just one word about Christmas Caravan and that word was ' Stunning ', but I'm not sure if that would make you click the link and check it out for yourself, so I will write some of the reasons why you have to buy this album and make it a part of your festive listening collection, not just this year, but for you to cherish and unwrap to play for every celebration to come, it's a timeless classic.
Anyone who knows me well will tell you I am not a big fan of Christmas albums, there are only so many arrangements of Jingle Bells or Silent Night that can be presented , or so I thought. As soon as I pressed play on the latest release by Sultans Of String the hairs on the back of my neck stood up, an orchestral arrangement of ' Turkish Greensleeves ' featuring Gündem Yayli Grubu left me stunned, track two ' Sing for Kwanzaa ' featuring Richard Bona & Waleed Abdulhamid did it again, in fact so much so that I went back to the first track and restarted the whole album, this time I was going to be ready to take in the complexities of the arrangements as demonstrated superbly well on track three ' Jesous Ahatonhia ' ( Huron Carol ) with a sublime performance featuring Crystal Shawanda.
I have just given you three reasons why you have to buy this album, we are not even half way in, there are fifteen more, making a total of eighteen majestic pieces, I could go on waxing lyrical about every single one as each in it's own right is a masterpiece for many reasons, the choice of songs, the choice of guest to perform, the inspirational arrangements and the amazing diversity of the entire album pulling in genres from Quebecois fiddle tunes to collaborating with a traditional Turkish string ensemble, a Himalayan themed tune, African roots music, gypsy-jazz, rumba flamenco, ska, and even a symphony orchestra.
The rich cultures from around the world celebrated within set this apart from your normal Christmas release, the research that must have gone into such a project is incredible, the band made a dream list of vocal and instrumental artists that they wanted to collaborate with and their wishes came true with an incredible all star line up appearing on the recording: 6-time Grammy winning Paddy Moloney (The Chieftains), Ruben Blades & Luba Mason (Panamanian 7 Grammy and 5 Latin Grammy winner), platinum-selling jazz vocalist Nikki Yanofsky; 2-time JUNO/Grammy winner Alex Cuba; Benoit Bourque of Quebec’s La Bottine Souriante (3 JUNOs, 4 gold, 3 platinum records); Sweet Honey in the Rock (Grammy winning, all-woman, African-American a cappella group); Cameroon’s Richard Bona (Paul Simon, Herbie Hancock); Canada’s singer to the stars Rebecca Campbell (Emmylou Harris, Alanis Morissette); singer Mary Fahl from NYC’s October Project; a recording collective of Turkish Roma violinists in Istanbul; Sudanese-Canadian singer Waleed Abdulhamid; Nashville-based JUNO Award winning country singer Crystal Shawanda; sitar virtuoso Anwar Khurshid; and hang drum player David Charrier from France.
I have just given you more reasons to buy, it simply has class stamped all over it, Chris McKhool and his band demonstrate their genius on this release. How does someone have all those thoughts in their head that they can take a track and know what instruments and arrangements to use and where to put them on the recording, multiplied by eighteen and it's simply staggering,
Christmas Caravan really is an outstanding body of work and sums up what Sultans Of String are all about, that they can take a Christmas themed album and turn it into a celebration of world culture through music is an unbelievable and glorious achievement.
So now, if I say ' Stunning ' will you go out and buy it ? Just take a look and listen to the video below, a breathtaking performance of Leonard Cohen's ' Hallelujah ' featuring the vocals of Rebecca Campbell, You can thank me later.