Judith Lynn Stillman
Judith Lynn Stillman, Christmas Reflections (North Star Music): The recurring thrill is the gusto with which the musicians impart new breezes and distinctive airs to songs we’ve heard dozens (if not hundreds) of times. Given the virtuosity present, it’s no shocker that a sense of wonderment, élan and majesty permeates. The Appalachian carol ‘I Wonder As I Wander’ may be the zenith. Judith Lynn Stillman’s style remains a captivating style inseparable from substance. There’s a reason why Stillman was asked to play for First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton and why Wynton Marsalis asked this longtime pal to join him in the studio for ‘On the Twentieth Century/ (Sony Classical), which shot up the Billboard charts like the elf who scarfed too many Skittles. Try track 16: a Bach Prelude segues into ‘Angels We Have Heard on High’ which aches with, then resolves, then aches with emotion. This is a spirit-lifting record, a keeper for many Christmases.