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Sounds of the season: Christmas tunes ring in holiday throughout the county

Sounds of the season: Christmas tunes ring in holiday throughout the county
From left, Bhagwan Khalsa (bass), Eric Byrd (piano) and Alphonso Young (drums) make up The Eric Byrd Trio, which will be performing "A Charlie Brown Jazz Christmas" Dec. 14-15 at the Carroll Arts Center in Westminster. (SUBMITTED PHOTO, Carroll County Times)

Eric Byrd is more than a little familiar with the classic Vince Guaraldi Trio jazz score that accompanies the Charles Schulz Peanuts classic "A Charlie Brown Christmas."

His family enjoyed the Guaraldi CD so much that it became scratched from overuse. He's seen the cartoon dozens of times.

And he can play every note of the score on the piano.

The Eric Byrd Trio is back this holiday season performing "A Charlie Brown Jazz Christmas" throughout the state this year, including at 7:30 p.m. Dec. 14, and 3 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. Dec. 15 at the Carroll Arts Center in Westminster. The jazz trio make performing part of their holiday traditions.

The 21st century swing band featuring Byrd (piano), Alphonso Young (drums) and Bhagwan Khalsa (bass) will play Guaraldi's score following a screening of the "A Charlie Brown Christmas" cartoon at many of their stops, including the Carroll Arts Center gig. At others, they will simply play the familiar score, which includes "Christmas Time is Here" and "O' Tannenbaum."

At the urging of Carroll County Arts Council Executive director Sandy Oxx, Byrd started performing the score live. It's become a gig the Eric Byrd Trio performs throughout the state now. He credits Oxx for having the vision for making the event a tradition.

"It's become a thing," he said of the annual "Charlie Brown Jazz Christmas" concert.

The Westminster Ringers hand bell group is returning for "Joy," its annual winter concert at 7:30 p.m. Dec. 8 at the Scott Center at Carroll Community College in Westminster. Expect some traditional holiday music to be part of the show, music director Debbie Henning said.

It's a rare chance to see the advanced Westminster Ringers and Accelerando, the intermediate group of bell ringers, in the same concert.

The Westminster Ringers are by audition only. Recently, the group was turning away interested performers.

"We thought it was time to start a new group," Henning said.

Enter Accelerando, which had fewer concert requirements than The Ringers and gives performers a chance to learn and develop their repertoire.

The Matrix Brass Quintet is adding a new location to its annual holiday tour.

The Matrix Brass Quintet will perform at 7:30 p.m. Dec. 7 at the Carroll Arts Center in Westminster. The group regularly performs in the Baltimore-Washington area and features Michael Szczublewski (trumpet, flugelhorn), John Gillenwater (trumpets and flugelhorn), Jim Vaughn (French horn), Charlie Doherty (trombone) and Patrick FitzGerald (tuba).

There will be some traditional brass quintet music as part of the concert. But with Christmas rapidly approaching, the performance will have a distinctive holiday flavor to it.

"I think it's a good way to kick off the season," Szczublewski said. "It's not too early. It's just the program that we have selected going to appeal to a large portion of the audience."

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