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"It's beautiful, and also wryly funny!"- The Seattle Times
"...a must for every collector of stringed instruments." - 20th Century Guitar
St. Petersburg Times
Los Angeles Times
20th Century Guitar
Daedalus Books and Music
Vintage Guitar Magazine - November 2001
It's not too soon to be thinking about
Christmas. Decorations will be appearing at local stores shortly and lists for
Santa will be on everyone's mind. If you need musical inspiration, let Gregg
Miner put you in the mood with these two eclectic collections of Christmas
music. Each cut features a different vintage instrument, from banjos to
lap-steels, from Renaissance lutes to harp guitars, all from Miner's own Museum
of Vintage, Exotic, and Just Plain Unusual Instruments. Miner systematically
restrung, restored and researched playing techniques of each of the 100-plus
instruments in his collection. Most are rare, and many are one-of-a-kind.
Each CD comes with a large full-color booklet that explains in detail the varied instruments, and many are quite unusual. One is struck not just by the arrangements of these Christmas classics (all by Miner), but also by his obvious command of the instruments. He has chops! Whether it's a sitar, oud, dobro, tiple, octofone, zither, or guitar, Miner can play, and play well. The "Charlie Brown Christmas Medley," arranged for Gibson harp guitars, is especially impressive and whimsical. These are full digital recordings and are guaranteed to please spouses who might otherwise object to "guitar" music.
Information and full ordering instructions are available at minermusic.com, where photos of the Miner Museum provide a glimpse of just some of the many instruments used on the CDs.
ST. PETERSBURG TIMES - Friday, December 10, 1999
never grow old / Notes from Christmas past:
. . . Or try A Christmas Collection, Vols I and II, featuring the Miner Museum of Vintage, Exotic and Just Plain Unusual Musical Instruments. Crumhorn, oud, saz and dumbek, Martin and Knutsen guitars, from balalaikas to zithers, 100 strange and wonderful instruments restored and restrung, each played only once on the 27 songs on these two discs. Great liner notes, fine photographs, superb musicianship and everything from Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring to The Chipmunk Song. --- Judy Stark
Daedalus Books and Music
- December 1999
This is one of the coolest Christmas compilations you’ll ever hear, and it’s certainly one of the most offbeat. “Sleigh Ride,” “Jingle Bell Rock,” “O Tannenbaum,” and other holiday favorites are heard on instruments from the Miner Museum of Vintage, Exotic and Just Plain Unusual Musical Instruments; more than 100 of its holdings are introduced both singly and in unison (via the miracle of multitracking) by the museum’s curator, Gregg Miner. From the mandolin orchestra on “Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring” to the balalaikas on “Ukrainian Bell Carol,” this collection crosses boundaries of time period and geography, making the world as one with the vibrations of plucked strings. And isn’t that what Christmas is all about?
We played the dobro “big band” arrangement of “Let It Snow” for jazz guitarist Larry Coryell, and he thought it as uproarious and delightful as we did. American zithers are heard on “The Holly and the Ivy,” ukuleles—what else?—on “The Chipmunk Song,” Japanese koto (with the flute-like shakuhachi) on “O Come, O Come, Emmanuel,” and sitar and tabla on “The Little Drummer Boy.” Early music lovers will appreciate the classical strains of the chitarrone, viola da gamba, and tromba marina on “Angels We Have Heard on High,” as well as the classical guitar and unique mandolins on “Bright, Bright the Holly Berries.”
THE SEATTLE TIMES - Friday, November 29, 1996
DO YOU HEAR what I hear? Sounds of the holidays fill the CD bins. Here's our critic's guide to the best.
Most unusual holiday CD: "A Christmas Collection," Gregg Miner (distributed by Delos International, DE2101 and 2102). Actually two discs, these feature "The Miner Museum of Vintage, Exotic and Just Plain Unusual Musical Instruments." What the title doesn't fully explain is the charm of hearing the Ukrainian Bell Carol with banduras and balalaikas, an entire mandolin orchestra playing "Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring," and an assortment of other songs played on everything from sitar, oud, duduk, shakuhachi, lute, cornetto, zither, and more other instruments than it's possible to list here (all played by Miner himself). It's beautiful, and also wryly funny. And the repertoire! From traditional classics to "How the Grinch Stole Christmas" and (gulp) "The Chipmunk Song."
DIRTY LINEN - December 1996
Gregg Miner is a collector and player of an extraordinary variety of old, rare, and unusual acoustic instruments, and this two-disk set of mostly familiar European and American holiday tunes offers a tour of his personal museum. Miner plays over a hundred different instruments on the 27 tracks, usually overdubbing numerous parts, and given their diversity - harps, zithers, tiples, octophones, sitars, and ouds, assorted medieval, Latin American, and Eastern instruments, as well as various guitars, banjos, and mandolins - his versatility and virtuosity is nothing short of amazing. The history of each instruments is detailed in the well-illustrated accompanying booklets, which could be read alone as mini-textbooks. This project will be of greatest interest to fellow instrument collectors and music historians, but the graceful and diverse instrumental arrangements stand on their own as well.
- Tom Nelligan
ST. PETERSBURG TIMES - Friday, December 6, 1996
Sounds of the season
My candidate for most fun disc of the season is A Christmas Collection, Vol. I and II, featuring the Miner Museum of Vintage, Exotic and Just Plain Unusual Instruments (Miner Music/Delos DE 2101 and 2102; order from (800) 364-0645). For this album, performer and curator Gregg Miner restored and restrung more than 100 rare and exotic instruments and just to make it more of a challenge, he plays each of these instruments only once on the 27 songs on these two discs. What's here? Martin and Knutsen guitars to die for, everything from balalaikas to zithers, Gibson mandolins, banjos and harp-guitars, lutes crumhorns and tambourines, octophone, oud, saz and dumbek, and much, much more. The music ranges from Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring to Sleigh Ride to classic carols to The Chipmunk Song. The liner notes are great reading, the photographs are terrific, and Miner is a first-rate musician. This is one wonderful surprise after another, a delightful treat amid so much same-old, same-old Christmas fare and a can't-miss gift idea.
LOS ANGELES TIMES - Thursday, December 21, 1995
VALLEY WEEKEND / BEST BETS
If you're looking for that last minute gift for the weird one in the family--you know, the one who listens to music when he could be watching TV-here's an idea.
Gregg Miner of Van Nuys has produced an album of Christmas music performed on his own private collection of rare and exotic musical instruments. Miner calls his collection the Miner Museum of Vintage, Exotic and Just Plain Unusual Musical Instruments.
Miner, who works in the aerospace industry, started collecting acoustic instruments in the early 1970s after his high school infatuation with hard rock began to fade. He has researched, played and sometimes restored each of his 100 instruments.
In "A Christmas Collection" Volumes 1 and 2, each volume has a CD accompanied by a full-color 52 page booklet. It's easy to see that "A Christmas Collection" is not a commercial venture as much as a love affair between a man and his instruments.
Miner has recorded familiar Christmas songs using small ensembles of instruments taken from his private collection. The arrangements are accessible, though the instrumentation can sometimes be esoteric.
Imagine "Jingle Bells" performed on a trio of Dobros or "We Three Kings of Orient Are" played on the Egyptian oud or "The Little Drummer Boy" on the Indian sitar.
The booklets feature photos of the instruments used in the recordings along with Miner's informed, loving and sometimes humorous musings on the histories and characteristics of the various instruments.
ACOUSTIC GUITAR - December 1996
I grew up loving the music that came with every Christmas season: the reassuring repetition of melodies year after year. The timeless quality of the centuries-old tunes, and the magic that seems to make people a bit nicer when they hear Christmas music.
It now seems a given that every recording musician who stays in the business long enough will eventually put out a Christmas album. From the old-school Perry Como and Tony Bennett chestnuts to the wonderful modern Christmas albums from David Grisman, Bruce Cockburn, and other folk-based musicians, the bins are full at the record stores. Gregg Miner may not be a recording industry old-timer, but his two CD set A Christmas Collection stands with the best Christmas recordings I've heard, and it has an incredible hook for guitar fans: through the magic of multitracking, Miner recorded the music playing his entire collection of 100-plus vintage and new instruments, most of them acoustic and most with strings. Unfortunately, the collection didn't make it out in time for the 1995 Christmas season, but Delos Records has licensed the set and is giving it the push it deserves for 1996.
Like the Tone Poems albums from David Grisman, Tony Rice, and Martin Taylor, Miner's A Christmas Collection features a wonderful assortment of vintage (and future vintage) instruments, and it puts them where they ought to be--in a musical context. Miner has not only learned to play all his instruments well, but he has also developed a deep sensitivity about combining the sonic textures he has at his fingertips, Oud, harp guitar, lap steel, sitar, saz, folk harp, banjo, lute, and many other stringed instruments are all used to great effect. I particularly liked the use of Andean instruments on "I Wonder as I Wander" and Middle Eastern instruments on "We Three Kings," which give the tunes an atmospheric context I never quite got from Mantovani-like elevator music arrangements. Miner's instrumentation helps highlight the original meaning of these Christmas songs. And although these albums are all instrumental, with music this familiar, listeners will fill in the words.
Each CD comes with a lavishly produced booklet with color photos as well as historical information about all of the instruments used. Miner's love for his instruments is clearly based on musical value, not just dollar value. His is an eclectic collection that includes not only the "normal" desirable vintage pieces, such as old Nationals, Dobros, Gibsons, and Martins, but also the really interesting and quirky instruments at which most vintage dealers turn up their noses. I hope this album inspires more collectors to appreciate the less valued old instruments and perhaps to actually use them.
After the novelty of A Christmas Collection wears off, what's left is its consistently high level of musicianship and lovingly whimsical arrangements. Miner has made a recording that can be enjoyed in any season (I'm writing this on a hot August 4!) and one that should be in every acoustic music lover's CD library. I hope we have not heard the last of either Miner the musician or Miner the collector.
- Rick Turner
20TH CENTURY GUITAR - October 1996
New releases every collection should have: the two-disc set (sold separately) of traditional Christmas songs from Gregg Miner, with a twist. Miner is a collector of "vintage, exotic and just plain unusual musical instruments" and he utilizes them to their fullest on these discs. Just about every kind of stringed instrument you can think of shows up and Miner mixes them beautifully while showcasing the unique characteristics of each. Both CDs come with illustrated, 50-page booklets explaining each song and the instruments that were used. This set is a must for every collector of stringed instruments.