How we rate: our writers tend to review music they like within their preferred genres.
The holiday season always brings pleasant surprises to those who wish it. It's a time for letting go of the routine and having a little fun. It's also a time for making plans for the year ahead and doing something to ensure success. MAXJAZZ has. Their catalogue features seven singers with modest reputations. Six are represented on this holiday collection; each showing unique vocal characteristics. Phillip Manuel carries his theme with a smiling confidence that takes his message even deeper. Christine Hitt uses a light touch that makes her performance buoyant and pleasant enough. Frail and gentle, she employs a folk song scene that relies on the lyrics more so than her clear vocal abilities. René Marie also applies a light touch to her singing style. It's when she adds a little dramatic volume to the arrangement, however, that her genuine spirit comes through. LaVerne Butler tells stories throughout each selection. From the heart, her message leaves no doubt about it. Her pleasant voice and seamless phrasing bring each of her selections around. Mary Stallings and Carla Cook provide depth. Both use a natural gospel inflection. Both are as comfortable with a blues style as with somber ballads. With singers like this helping out, the holidays are sure to turn out the best ever.
Track Listing: Do You Hear What I Hear?; Let It Snow, Let It Snow, Let It Snow; Sleigh Ride; I