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Warm, plaintive, whimsical, fresh, and full of heart, Cally Banham's 'Cor Christmas' leaves you with a glow / STAGEANDCINEMA

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At first glance, I assumed this CD from the assistant principal oboe - and Solo English horn position - of the Saint Louis Symphony (SLS), Cally Banham, would be flat-out Muzak. Boy oh hautboy, was I ever wrong. Intimate, warm, plaintive, whimsical, fresh, and full of heart, this holiday treat not only leaves you with a glow, but bears repeat listenings. All the songs are given inventively original arrangements by Banham, pianist Adam Maness, and/or Adam De Sorgo, current principal oboe of Sarasota Orchestra.

There is one other arranger: The supremely gorgeous arrangement of "Silent Night" comes courtesy of Mannheim Steamroller's Chip Davis. But it is given emotional heft by Cortango, a sextet with the unlikely grouping of cor (Banham) and bass (David DeRiso) mixed with a piano quartet of violin (Asako Kuboki), viola (Chris Tantillo), cello (Melissa Brooks), and piano/guitar (Mr. Maness). (With all but Maness members of SLS, they call themselves a Tango, Classical and Jazz Fusion orchestra.)

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