With his warm and sincere holiday greeting, guitarist Royce Campbell combines mainstream jazz with the Christmas tradition. His wealth of experience has taught him to treasure these holiday songs. Nineteen years as Henry Mancini's guitarist, plus numerous tours with singers Mel Tormé, Cleo Laine, Perry Como, and Marvin Gaye, have given Campbell an appreciation for the deep meaning that these songs convey year after year. The acoustic timbres of his trio allow the music to flow naturally.
With a mellow tone and crystal clear articulation, the guitarist interprets each of these traditional favorites as jazz trio adventures. Filled with outside quotes and spontaneous forays, the trio's cool passion allows for many happy returns. Campbell's guitar solos with melodic authority, Tom Baldwin's upright bass steps out with adventurous designs, and Howard Curtis' drums provides a light but sturdy foundation. The trio likes to present its interpretations as lightly Latin or slightly blue. Campbell swings gently and puts a wealth of rhythmic joy into each piece.
"Winter Wonderland" flows smoothly with a windswept melody, but as Campbell and Baldwin step out to solo, the scene changes quickly from one of peaceful landscapes to one filled with spontaneous surprises. Both artists fit the jazz tradition into their interpretations comfortably. Curtis' fours allow them to converse as naturally as neighbors over the backyard fence.
Recorded separately, Campbell's "Live Every Day Like Christmas" features Everette Greene's warm baritone voice with strings. Marking the solemn spirit of the holiday season, Greene and Campbell remind us how important it is to accept the spirit at this time of the year and to carry it with us all year 'round.
"The Christmas Song" closes the album with warm thoughts of a cozy fireplace and loved ones by your side. That's what the holidays are for. With his recommended album, guitarist Royce Campbell helps us to retain that spirit throughout the year.
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Personnel: Royce Campbell: guitar; Tom Baldwin: bass; Howard Curtis: drums; Everette Greene: vocal on "Live Every Day Like Christmas."