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Nadina Mackie Jackson



The Caliban Quartet of Bassoonists has been praised by critics around the world for its brilliant playing, inventive programming, and sunny good humour. Who better to lead you through a varied collection of sparkling Christmas music? Their new CD "Caliban Does Christmas" includes everything from comedy to swing to gorgeous ballads and classics.

For this CD, the Quartet is joined by five different singers, two drummers and even a partridge in a pear tree. The queen of vocal comedy herself, soprano Mary Lou Fallis, sings four tunes including a goofy 1957 hit, "Too Fat for the Chimney" and Fred Silver's hilarious "The 12 Days After Christmas." The Quartet is delighted to present their special guest, Canadian folk music legend Valdy, winner of two Juno Awards and holder of four gold records including the huge hit "Play Me a Rock-and-Roll Song". He joins Caliban for the sweet and gentle "The Secret of Christmas" and his own "Secret Santa", written especially for this CD.

Two of Canada's finest jazz singers are on board for tunes like "Santa Claus is Coming to Town" and the beautiful "What Are You Doing New Year's Eve?"; Bonnie Brett is a frequent guest of Toronto's finest jazz clubs and Heather Bambrick is a brilliant up-and-comer who was named Jazz Vocalist of the Year at the 2004 National Jazz Awards.

Georgian music expert Alan Gasser joins in for a bracing rendition of a traditional Georgian Christmas tune. Cameo appearances by players like jazz trumpet star Guido Basso, trombonist Alain Trudel, trumpeter Guy Few and jazz drummer Brian Barlow round out the collection.
A sensational line-up of talent and tunes guaranteed to bring a smile to your Christmas season.

Nadina Mackie Jackson, bassoon
Mathieu Lussier, bassoon

Kathleen McLean, bassoon

Fraser Jackson, bassoon & contrabassoon
with singers: Mary Lou Fallis, Valdy, Heather Bambrick, Bonnie Brett, Alan Gasser
Guido Basso, trumpet & flugelhorn

Alain Trudel, trombone

Guy Few, trumpet

Michael Francis, guitars & dulcimer

Scott Alexander, bass

Brian Barlow, drum set & percussion

Mark Duggan, mallets & percussion
Produced by Brian Barlow

Recorded and mastered by Chad Irschick and Mike Haas at Inception Sound Studios, Toronto

Mixed by Chad Irschick

Cover illustration and design by Randy James

Elf photography by Cylla von Tiedemann

Studio photos by Fraser Jackson and Nadina Mackie Jackson

Project Coordinated by Fraser Jackson

"Armed with bassoons and a whole lot more, Canada's Caliban Quartet of Bassoonists takes listeners on a delightfully wild ride on Caliban Does Christmas. This generous album (almost an hour of music!) absolutely bursts with marvelous musicianship and frolicking fun!"

The amazing quartet (Nadina Mackie Jackson, Kathleen McLean, Mathieu Lussier, Fraser Jackson) has plenty of help from talented friends, including five different singers and seven other instrumentalists (horns, guitar/dulcimer, percussion).

Caliban Does Christmas covers the waterfront, from flat-out comedy (including soprano Mary Lou Fallis' four contributions) to the sweetest ballads (like Canadian folk music legend Valdy's own "Secret Santa") to jazzy gems (with jazz vocalists Bonnie Brett and Heather Bambrick) and (relatively) straightforward, outstanding instrumental interpretations of holiday classics. The 18 tracks include tons of happy surprises, as well as the fantastic treatment of familiar numbers. Eleven of the 18 reflect vocals. The comprehensive liner notes (31 pages, in both English and French) give listeners ample information about the performers and the pieces. What's more, Caliban's Website ( is one of the best in the business!

This album is exceptional on so many levels, beginning with the bassoon itself. When I first spotted this CD, the idea of a holiday offering based on bassoons was intriguing; in my years reviewing many hundreds of Christmas albums, this was definitely a first. The unique sound is deep-throated, darkly woody, lyrically expressive, and sometimes comically gruff. The Caliban perfomers are remarkable classical musicians, but never take themselves too seriously, always performing with sensational verve and creative good humor! The album's vocalists create an incredibly diverse palette--everything from Alan Gasser's boisterous "Megruli Alilo," a Georgian number sung in Megrelian, to Bonnie Brett's sassy "Santa Claus Is Coming to Town" and Valdy's tender and endearing "I Saw Three Ships."

With Caliban Does Christmas, the Caliban Quartet of Bassoonists truly does it all! This excellent offering will please and entertain a broad audience of those desiring an exciting and eclectic mix for the holiday season."
Carol Swanson, Reviewed in 2005

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