Jim Brickman is the most commercially successful instrumental pop pianist of the last two decades. A special place in his heart for Christmas has driven him to offer fans a holiday extravaganza every year. 2013 marked the 18th year for the annual holiday tour, which will feature songs from his latest holiday album, The Magic of Christmas. Before his December 12 performance at The Town Hall in New York City, he took time out speak with Ryan Book, who pulled double-duty, talking with him for both Hallels.com and MusicTimes.com.
Ryan for Hallels.com - What is the difference between your Christmas tour and your regular tours?
Jim - There's the set design, the cast and crew...Sometimes solo, sometimes it's with an orchestra. It's probably our biggest show. It's a big tradition for some people, but I wouldn't say it's gotten bigger technically (over the years).
Ryan for Hallels.com - What is the format for the Christmas shows?
Jim - It's always a nice combination of hit songs and Christmas music...If all I do is Christmas from front to back, then it's nothing unique to me.
Ryan for Hallels.com - What are your favorite Christmas songs?
Jim - I love the hymns and carols ... "God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen" or "Angels We Have Heard on High." They have the most beautiful melodies and it's easiest to interpret in my own way.
Ryan for Hallels.com - What are your favorite things about Christmas in general?
Jim - This is obvious, but the music is always the most special thing. It accentuates relationships and the people in your life. it's odd that one time of year is known for gathering rather than the whole year round.
Ryan for Hallels.com - Does your Christmas tour ever cut into your time with your family?
Jim - My tour family is my family.
Ryan for Hallels.com - Have you thought about making recordings for other holidays?
Jim - My music lends itself to Christmas-the melodic interpretation, the nostalgia, the emotional connection, the hopefulness-it's an important distinction.
Ryan for Hallels.com - Have you ever considered playing more raucous music?
Jim - I get asked that every so often. You are who you are. Don't try to be who you aren't. The show includes a gospel medley as an "upbeat section."
Ryan for Hallels.com - How do you feel when people like Martina McBride are recognized for singing YOUR songs?
Jim - This is something I've dealt with my whole career, and I don't blame people for that. When I make the choice to have vocals, instead of singing myself, by nature that's going to happen. It's important to think of myself as a songwriter. People don't know it's mine, which stands to reason. It's something people like Burt Bacharach and Carlos Santana deal with too, I'm sure.
Ryan for Hallels.com - You've worked with a lot of greats. Who is your ideal vocalist to work with?
Jim - I usually make choices based on what the project is. "The Magic of Christmas" was designed to feel like a classic Christmas album, so Johnny Mathis was a great fit. Usually, the right thing comes along at the right time. I don't want to do it just to do it. I don't really have a daydream where I'm playing with any particular performer.
Ryan for Hallels.com - Last question - What's more Christmassy? A Santa hat or reindeer antlers?
Jim - It depends on what you're aiming to accomplish!