The Christmas EP actually had a rather unusual creation process.
“I was part of a jazz duo for two years,” explained Baggett. “We only performed four times, including a live web/TV show, and in Yorkton (March 2020, one week prior to lockdown).
“We had recorded an entire album of original music (13 songs, 55-plus minutes). The album was 99 per cent complete when the two of us had a major disagreement, one that still has me scratching my head. Then we split and parted ways. So the album may never be released.
“After pouting around for about a week, I shook it off and drew out ideas for my next three future projects. This Christmas EP is the first of those three.”
The effort came as something of a surprise to Baggett himself too.
“I had told myself and numerous others that I would never create a Christmas album,” he said, adding it is a case of learning you should “never say never!
“I always saw those as total sellouts. Plus, I have my own reservations about the holiday season and monetary waste, etc.
“But I really needed to honour my mother somehow. And Christmas music is about the only music she consistently loves. She's had a rough year – pandemic -- lost both siblings (non-COVID related) -- and my family is far from her, she's in Houston, TX ... my home town.
“So, this is a small gift to her.”
You might expect doing a recording of Christmas music would be easy based on familiarity with the material, but that also becomes a challenge.
“Hmm ... not really easier. Maybe more challenging since every human on earth has an expectation of how these songs must be presented,” offered Baggett. “I took each song and arranged them in a way where the music would start to take a trip to the unknown, but return to the known before anyone realizes.”
So with catalogues of potential songs to include, Baggett had a task in choosing which to include.
“I have played arrangements of the first two tracks - We Three Kings and God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen - for maybe 10-years. They have evolved into something I find well-meaning and listenable,” said Baggett.
“So I was happy to get these down.
“Skating, from Guaraldi's Charlie Brown Christmas soundtrack is one I worked up a year ago on a whim of just challenging myself - that, and the Charlie Brown music is just brilliant.
“My generation considers that music is a Christmas standard.
“What Child Is This is a song I've toyed with for almost 10-years, but recently came up with an arrangement in an ambient, looping style, which is a music style I've been dabbling in lately.
“I'm really pleased with the results of What Child.
“And last ... Shchedryk (Ukrainian Folk Chant) aka Carol of the Bells almost didn't happen. I had very vague ideas for it involving looping devices. Thankfully, engineer and partial co-producer Orion Paradis -- SoulSound Studio in Regina -- really made this song work.
“I love it!”
And while Baggett may have never expected to do a Christmas recording, he likes what he has created.
“Very. I normally am a fan of ‘grand works’. i.e.: full albums that last almost an hour or more. These short little albums or EPs people make always made me feel like they were short changing the listener,” he said. “But I now realize that in music, like in conversation, sometimes the less you say, the better. Less is more.”
You can find the EP at brianbaggett-chapmanstick.bandcamp.com/