A Clarks Summit-based pastor and his Christmas Eve jazz band have released a live concert CD and DVD of their annual Christmas Eve performance.
"Jazz Noel" is the new CD/DVD set by Bill Carter, pastor of the First Presbyterian Church of Clarks Summit, and the Presbybop Christmas Eve Band. The group is the annual featured musical act for the church's 11 p.m. Christmas Eve service and has performed every Christmas Eve since 1999. This album was recorded in front of a live audience in December 2012.
The DVD/CD package offers traditional Christmas songs, such as "Joy to the World," "We Wish You a Merry Christmas" and "Silent Night," with musical arrangements by Bill Carter. All are performed by Carter on piano and by other band members, including Mike Carbone on saxophone, Tony Marino on bass and Marko Marcinko on drums. Special guests include Jeff Stockham on trumpet/flugelhorn and Warren Cooper with vocals and percussion.
"When the angels sing, and all earth echoes it, we catch the dance. We get caught up in the sound; and the joy is given to us as a gift," Carter said. "These are some nearby friends who help me ignite the late-night celebration at my church. People are quickly defrosted by the energetic joy of this music. It's my favorite night of the year."
According to Carter, the Presbybop Christmas Eve Band's annual repertoire is familiar enough to keep fans coming back, but unique enough to keep them interested.
"The music changes every time we play it," he said. "Not only do we get to hear the tunes we know, but we see it reinvented right in front of us. That's what jazz is all about."
Carter added that the band performs a brand new piece every year. This year, they will do their own interpretation of "Carol of the Bells."
"The people who come to hear us on Christmas Eve might not be in church any other time of the year, but they come for this," said Carter. "Christmas music transcends religious differences. Nobody leaves, and when they do, everybody departs transformed. Nobody's the same after they leave. That's what a lot of people are hungry for.
Carter added that he also enjoys the Christmas Eve service at the First Presbyterian Church of Clarks Summit, partly because of its uniqueness.
"Of all the worship services that I lead, this one fills my soul unlike any other," he said. "Something about this particular band, that particular night changes me."
"Jazz Noel" retails for $19.99 and is available online at www.CDBaby.com or www.presbybop.com. It is also available locally at the First Presbyterian Church of Clarks Summit, 300 School St. Call 570-586-6306 for more information.