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Eric Gillette - Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy CD (album) cover


Eric Gillette

Progressive Metal

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4 stars Neal Morse Band guitarist Eric Gillette released his cover of the Tchaikovsky Christmas classic "Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy", delightfully putting his own Prog Metal spin on it. This general mode and approach to Christmas tunes is naturally pretty familiar, and I must add, in a good almost nostalgic way, it made me think of Manheim Steamroller, whom I heard quite a lot toward the end of each year growing up.

The cover has a playthrough video available on YouTube, released Dec. 20, 2020, where Gillette says he "always wanted to do a cover of this song and put [his] own twist on it." Performed in a modern Prog Metal style, I will admit it's even better than expected. Keyboards provide string backing and a lead melody 'acoustic' piano. The track is well-suited for this treatment, there's no doubt about it. This is certainly telling of his abilities, especially as a guitarist and drummer. A duel key and guitar solo nearing minute 2 was one of the strongest, most exciting moments. Thereafter, jazzy piano takes the center stage as the rhythm shifts into a cool, swinging feel. The result is some tasteful Fusion. Still in solo mode, we look to lead guitar (hard not to trust somebody with a Music Man) to close out this new bridge section. He returns to the song's main theme. Pretty fantastic overall.

Really, though, if you want an (in my view) somewhat more progressive take, Bela Fleck and the Flecktones' Progressive Bluegrass rendition featured the wondrous Alash Ensemble--three incredibly talented Tuvan-Mongolian throat singers and multi-instrumentalists whom I had the privilege to see in a small Unitarian Church for my birthday just earlier this year(!).

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Posted Wednesday, May 24, 2023 | Review Permalink

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