I had a conversation with John Conahan in late November in which I said, “I’m not sure if I want to do this again. I feel like I’m re-treading too much old ground.” John convinced me to do another CarolRagnarok by saying, “It’s just supposed to be fun and stupid and good.” I have to say that I’m glad that I did. I think the Carol Ragnarok 2020: Covid Edition had some of the strongest submissions to date. John is an incredible musician. I started off with an It Came Upon a Midnight Clear in the style of Chopin Op. 25 No. 1.
John came back with a beautiful improv that uses Lo, How a Rose E’er Blooming with Ravel’s Pavane pour une infante défunte. I think John’s style here also ows a lot to Keith Jarrett.
I pulled out my guitar, uke, harmonica, and Bob Dylan impersonation to do Good King Wenceslas.
John came back with a Roomful of Teeth O Come All Ye Faithful.
I decided to cheat a little and put up an unrehearsed Christmas Time is Here with Grammy Award winning conductor Charles Bruffy.
John came back with a Sweet Honey in the Rock O Holy Night that is just delightful. I’ve been a fan of that group for so long, and a few years ago I got to hang out with Dr. Ysaye Barnwell who is amazing.
For my final submission, I revisted an idea that I have done before. I combine the Thad Jones tune A Child is Born with Silent Night.
John came back with the most heart-wrenching cover of River by Joni Mitchell. I think it’s better than the original.
It was an incredible year of submissions, and I’m glad that we did it. We’re hoping to coordinate some live events next year, so stay tuned.