How we rate: our writers tend to review music they like within their preferred genres.
John Signorello delivers this Christmas present with a swagger and a smile. It's the Frank Sinatra influence. Fronting a big band, he's in control of the room. Excellent musical arrangements and a lineup of stellar musicians give him all he needs to interpret each selection in his own way. Signorello's tenor voice comes across strong and fresh, and he's got a firm grasp of all the elements needed to work with a big band. However, the glamour and glitz of his presentation do get in the way, causing much of the program to appear mechanical. While the band swings heartily and each soloist tosses off a good stream of excitement, Signorello allows a ho-hum appearance to take over on several occasions.
Swinging arrangements such as "I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus and "Winter Wonderland allow the singer to gather momentum as he explores avenues that bring these traditional favorites into focus. Two tracks with strings prove too mellow, erasing much of the thrill. Several ballad selections bring the message home slowly, while the program's emphasis remains tied to hip swingers that marry singer and band in revelry. It's a happy time of the yeara time to lighten up, and a time for celebration.
Despite the minor carps, Signorello's personable voice and friendly demeanor bring the program close to his audience. He's well supported here, with a powerful band and sterling soloists, including trumpeter Don Harris, alto saxophonist Andy Fusco, soprano saxophonist Gerry Niewood, tenor saxophonist Richie Cannata and trombonist Bruce Bonvissuto.
As Signorello reminds us, "It's lovely weather for a sleigh ride together with you. Then, characteristically, he adds, "You better believe it, baby.
Track Listing: Silver Bells; My Favorite Things; Christmas Lullaby; The Christmas Song; I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus; Little Drummer Boy; Sleigh Ride; Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas; Winter Wonderland; Auld Lang Syne.
Personnel: John Signorello: vocals; Richie Cannata, Gary Keller, Rich Scollo: tenor saxophone; Gerry Niewood: alto saxophone, soprano saxophone; Andy Fusco: alto saxophone; Kristy Norter: baritone saxophone; Dave Trigg, Glenn Drewes, Mike Caruba: trumpet; Don Harris: trumpet, flugelhorn; Bruce Bonvissuto, Ozzie Melendez, Chris Culver, George Flynn: trombone; Mick Gaffney: guitar; Rich Iacona: piano; Madeline Kole Iacona: bass; Tony Tedesco: drums; Fred Wallcatt: percussion; Denna Miller, LaTanya Hall: background vocals; others (strings).