Incredible Christmas carol improv mashup

by Kevin Birnbaum

It’s nice having talented friends.

My friend Lawrence Lam is a pianist who has been known to record improvisations on themes like the Lamentations of Jeremiah. So a few weeks ago I sent him a Facebook message with a proposal: “I think you should record improvisations on Christmas carols and then make them available for me to download.”

He answered the call with a medley that blew my mind—twelve minutes of joyous, powerful music. I counted at least eleven songs that he weaved into his improv session, and there may be a couple I’m missing.

I asked Lawrence tonight how he’d prepared for the recording—did he have a plan? He said he’d jotted down a few carols I’d suggested on a sticky note, but when he got to the piano he realized he’d forgotten the sticky note. So he just played whatever came to mind. No preparation, one take. Yeah, there are a few rough edges—that’s how you know it’s improv—but his recording is now some of my favorite Christmas music.

So do yourself a favor and check out Lawrence Lam’s “Christmas Tinkering“—you can listen online or download it for free. Put it on in the background or take the time to savor the skill and creativity. You’ll enjoy it either way.

And if you don’t recognize the jolly tunes at the beginning and end, you need to follow the advice in this post.