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Christmas Music

By Godspeede

[Tatiana: decorative image]

In times past it was an almost mandatory sign of arrival for a recording artist to tackle an album of Christmas music. Elvis recorded two, one in the 50s and one in the 70s, and even the Beatles, while too cool to actually record "Silent Night" (though of course John Lennon wrote "Happy Xmas (War is Over)"), regularly released ever stranger Christmas "messages" for their fans. In recent years, this tradition has become largely confined to vocal artists, but it still retains some vitality. Usually these efforts are predictable; take a body of traditional Christmas songs, tart them up to sound contemporary, add a song or two specially written in the artist’s style, and release every November for the next twenty years. Thus we have had Christmas albums from such a range of artists as Buck Owens, Doris Day, Frank Sinatra, Paul Revere & the Raiders, the Beach Boys, Mel Torme, Dolly Parton, the Saddletown Boys Choir and the list goes on and on. As a rule these recordings lack creditability. Not only are they generally done hastily without much creativity or thought and are almost always filled with clichés like sleigh bells and the like, but the artists themselves are not especially convincing. For instance a "sexy" version of "I’ll Be Home For Christmas" by Crystal Gayle is not really very evocative of most people’s idea of the season’s spirit. However, the Christmas recordings of Tatiana are the exception to all of the above.

One of Tatiana’s enduring assets, one that has served her well both as a pop star and as a "children’s entertainer", is that her voice is blessed with a positive soothing timbre. Making this more effective is her ability to communicate so well a naturally sympathetic personality. The two combined with her considerable professional skill empower her to create some really outstanding Christmas music. This first became apparent early in her career when she recorded a number of holiday songs for various projects including Amigo Del Mundo (from 1992 with Pedro Fernandez and Ricky Martin and which is based upon the aforementioned John Lennon/Yoko Ono composition), her first version of her own Jesus En La Tierra (1992), and Campanas Navidenas, (from 1989). It was not surprising, therefore, that after achieving renewed success as La Reina de los Ninos in 1995, Tatiana recorded two of her own Christmas albums, Navidad Con Tatiana (1996) and Navidad Magica (1997) subsequently re- released as Feliz Navidad.

In both she uses Pepe Luis Soto, the producer of her stunningly successful "children’s" albums. As in her other major recording projects after 1995, Don Soto plays a major role in creating brilliant pop backgrounds, some of which are worthy of the best efforts of Brian Wilson (the genius of the Beach Boys fame). But the spirit of things is all Tatiana’s! Rather than settling for easy shallow sentimentality, she brings instead her usual sense of commitment, fun, creativity, and energy.

[Picture: Album Cover]

Of her two albums, Navidad Con Tatiana is the more interesting and imaginative in its song selection. These fall into two groupings: interpretation of traditional and pop Hispanic tunes, and Hispanicized renditions of American popular Christmas selections. Among the latter are the songs "Santa Claus Is Coming to Town", done in typical Tatiana world-beat style, "White Christmas", "Roudolfo El Reno" ("Rudolph the Red Nosed Raindeer") that sounds as if it were lifted from her first "children's" album Brinca, and "El Nino Del Tambor" ("Little Drummer Boy") that rocks out harder than the more famous rendition by Joan Jett. The real treasures here, however, are the Hispanic tunes like "Aare Burriquito" that sets a new standard for cuteness, "Los Reyes Mayos" that uses the bass riff from "Your Love Lifted Me Higher" to create a Christmas jump blues, and most especially "Los Peces En La Rio", which sounds like the Miami Sound Machine (not surprising as Don Soto is a member) and proves that Tatiana can give Gloria Esteban or anyone else a run for their money doing Salsa. The dance theme is brought to a full climax in the last number "Llego La Navidad Remix". Featuring snatches of melodies from all of the songs on the album and a powerful rhythm, it is similar to the world mix of "El Patio of Mi Casa" that earlier brought her much success. The overall tone of Navidad Con Tatiana, then, is upbeat and very Latino, and it stands as one of her strongest efforts ever.

[Picture: Album Cover]

A different, slightly more traditional mood is created on Navidad Magica (Feliz Navidad), which is comprised of Latin and American Christmas popular tunes together with carols and a small number of Hispanic holiday fare. It begins with a rousing "Navidad Rock" ("Jingle Bell Rock") that uses a big band sound and features La Reina doing some impressive scat singing at the end (if all too briefly). Frankly, this version cuts the original by Brenda Lee. Among the other similar songs are: "Paseo En Trineo" ("Sleigh Ride"), Frosty the Snowman, and Campanas Navidenas (Jingles Bells). The carols like "Noche de Pas" ("Silent Night"), "Adeste Fidelas" ("Come All Ye Faithful"), "Aire de Pascuas" ("Hark the Herald Angles Sing"), and "La Navidad Llego" ("Joy to the World") are respectfully but also imaginatively and entertainingly done. Another treat is "Feliz Navidad", which she partially sings in English (something she does very well but has done rarely so far in her career). Perhaps the high point of the album comes with Tatiana’s own "Jesus En La Tierra", which she re-recorded for this album. She composed it when only eleven years old at a time when she was taking piano lessons, and the classical influence of her schooling shows in this wonderful little tune. It is catchy enough to become a standard. It also demonstrates that she should do more song writing!

[Picture: Album Cover]

Of course Tatiana as a writer of a religious song is entirely consistent with her success here as the singer of tunes inspired by a religious holiday. It is not just that she takes her task very seriously - there are nothing less than completely committed and professional performances here - but also that this music reflects her own very real and very deep personal faith. At the heart of Tatiana’s life and what she does is the power of love, and for Tatiana, love is the power of God. Nowhere is this theme more clearly apparent in her catalog then in Navidad Con Tatiana and Navidad Magica. For niños and adults -- enjoy!

© 2001 by Richard A. Morton


This page was first created 11 Dec 2001, and last modified 14 Jul 2002.
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