Raphael Wressnig & Alex Schultz – Soulful Christmas (with a Funky Twist)
Raphael Wressnig is a self-described “organ-heavy soul & funk” musician. His B-3 and other organ work. His catalog of about 20 albums of New Orleans-style funk, soul and R&B feature his nig organ sound. He was hanging out in New Orleans for a “Crawfish Fiesta” away from his native Germany and teamed up with New York City born and L.A. based guitarist Alex Schultz to deliver a super instrumental holiday album to welcome in the Christmas season for 2023.
Wressnig and Schultz have teamed up before, on album like Soul Gumbo and Chicken Burrito. Wressnig plays Hammond B-3 organ along with Wurlitzer piano, and Hohner D-6 clavinet. Schultz is on the guitars. Hans-Jürgen Bart is on drums except for the final track where Eric Cisbani is featured. Gisele Jackson is a special guest on vocals for the lone non-instrumental cut.
They open with the traditional “O Tannenbaum” with some nice, heavy organ and solid guitar work. The second track is an old German children’s carol “Leise rieselt der Schnee” which the pair duly and suitably funk up.
“Winter Wonderland” is the next traditional carol that they give their soulful and funky makeover to and follow that with Jackson giving a powerful performance on the modern Christmas favorite “This Christmas.” Baltimore-born and now residing in Brooklyn Giselle is a spectacular singer.
Up next is “Santa Claus is Coming to Town,” and then it’s “The Little Drummer Boy” that Wressnig and Schultz funkify and make cool. They do a great job with both secular and sacred carols.
“Merry Christmas Baby” may lack the typical crooning or sexy vocals but make up for that with some really slick work by Wressnig and Schultz. Following that is “Jingle Bells” for a very funky sleigh ride, and then they conclude with “Stille Nacht (Silent Night),” a delightful finale for a fine album!
There is no schmaltz here. All the songs are done with funky and swampy soul, blues and grease. They give the listener a new and cool and powerful perspective on Christmas classics that will delight those who pick up this album. I enjoyed the set of tunes and if you are looking for a heavy set of Xmas music with lots of cool organ and guitar then look no further!
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