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Kate Peters... possesses a killer Broadway voice

So unique! Gathering is a group that celebrates diversity in every sense of the word. The self-titled CD "Gathering: A Holiday Celebration" fuses many different cultures, evidenced both by the stylistic choices and by the instruments driving the project. The Australian didgeridoo, Irish pipes, Hawaiian ukulele and Caribbean steel drums all find a home on this CD. Spanish flamenco dances with Japanese taiko drumming, and all of these international elements swirl over a traditional foundation of American jazz. Very cool! Gathering consists of Kate Peters (who possesses a killer Broadway voice), Steve Dixon (the passionate rhythmic drummer), Baba Elefante (celebrated bassist and composer) and Ron Kobayashi (super-dedicated pianist and composer). Together they make magic. This is not just your ordinary, garden-variety holiday music CD, nosiree! Of course, it will play in your CD player just fine and will provide an exotic and exciting array of Christmas offerings in the process. In addition, when you pop the CD into your computer, you will discover that it is an interactive CD-ROM. As such, you enter Gathering's digital world, where you can play the songs--and explore the history, credits, lyrics, and production notes while caught in the beautiful music's spell. You can also link to related internet sites and obtain information about each individual artist, sharing their thoughts and experiences. The interactive element adds a totally new level of engagement and enjoyment. Describing the ultimate product is a challenge. Several pieces are classic jazz (including the opening "Carol of the Bells," "We Three Kings," and a very funky "Little Drummer Boy"); other tunes have a strong new age aura, using ethereal synthesized sounds and vocal tones ("Shalom" and "A Thousand Candles"). One song is cleanly Celtic ("Gathering") with some great fiddlin'; another sways with Caribbean influences ("Mary's Little Boy Child"). Kate Peters demonstrates her Broadway musical singing chops on "Candle in the Snow." My favorite cut among the 12 tracks is the dramatic "Coventry Carol," which has an orchestrated flavor similar to Mannheim Steamroller and carries through with excellent vocals. It's a wonderful piece. "Gathering: A Holiday Celebration" deserves high marks for creativity, dynamic multiculturalism, and musical virtuosity. It's an impressive package.

Carol Swanson, www.Christmasreview.com


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