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Various Artists: Justin Time For Christmas Four (2004)

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Various Artists: Justin Time For Christmas Four How we rate: our writers tend to review music they like within their preferred genres.

As the year-end holiday season brings pleasant surprises, Justin Time's annual gift package delights the jazz collector as well as the jazz novice. It's all provided in the holiday spirit. The surprises on this fourth endowment include veteran renderings alongside several unique surprises.

Hank Jones offers a warm solo piano arrangement of "The Christmas Song" and pianist Oliver Jones skates through "Let it Snow" with merriment. Rob McConnell's Tentet displays its Christmas brass on a swingin' medley of "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas," "Jingle Bells" and "I'll Be Home for Christmas." The impressionable Carmen Lundy croons a lovely "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas," as well, with a natural partnership that features Mark Shim, Curtis Lundy, Anthony Wonsey and Victor Lewis. Together, they represent the community spirit that prevails this time of the year.

This year, Justin Time has decided to introduce a few of its less well-known artists. Quartango interprets an original, "Pandora's Christmas Box," with violin, piano, bandoneon and bass. Their acoustic greeting card medley harkens to an age-old tradition of familiar carols. Johanne Blouin sings "Silent Night" in English and French. Her clear alto voice gives the traditional refrain plenty of muscle. She lays the spirit of celebration on our shoulders with distinction. Coral Egan brings us a contemporary charmer with the persuasion of Peggy Lee. "You're a Mean One, Mr. Grinch" introduces this saucy singer to a wider audience.

With a blues hue that captures the jovial mood of anticipation that Christmas brings, Beau Kavanaugh & the Broken-Hearted boogie through "Santa Claus is Back in Town." Later, Adam Karch offers an original "Christmas Prayer" as a folk singer's gift to the world. It's a time, after all, to think about peace and prosperity. The Montreal Jubilation Gospel Choir closes out the album with fervor and a positive outlook with "Go Tell it on the Mountain." Their classic display is timely, and summarizes aptly the spirit that Justin Time so unselfishly represents on this latest of their holiday gifts.

Track Listing: Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas; The Christmas Song; You're a Mean One, Mr. Grinch; Let it Snow, Let it Snow, Let it Snow; O Little Town of Bethlehem; Christmas Medley: (Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas, Jingle Bells, I'll Be Home for Christmas); Sainte Nuit; Pandora's Christmas Box; Santa Claus is Back in Town; Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer; Christmas Prayer; Go Tell It on the Mountain.

Personnel: Carmen Lundy, Coral Egan, Johanne Blouin, Bryan Lee, Ranee Lee- vocal; Adam Karch, Beau Kavanaugh- guitar, vocal; Alex Cattaneo, Richard Ring- guitar; Anthony Wonsey, Vic Vogel, Hank Jones, Brian Dickinson, Bruce Katz, Oliver Jones, Richard Hunt- piano; Ren

Record Label: Justin Time Records

Style: Straight-ahead/Mainstream


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