Various Artists: A Bowl of Merry: Music for Holiday Joy and Celebration (2002)
There’s not much Jazz in this motley Bowl of Merry, but there is an abundance of delightful holiday music from a number of well–endowed groups of various shapes, sizes and forms. As Jazz is my bailiwick I’d not heard of any of them, but must say they are quite good at what they do, which is basically lending an ethnic / folk facade to traditional seasonal music and transposing it into their own distinctive idiom. About the closest one comes to Jazz as we know it are sleek renditions of “Good King Wenceslas” and “The First Noel” by tenor saxophonist Otis Read and Friends (from the North Star album Deck the Halls ). Everything on offer was previously recorded by North Star, with Irish revelers Steve Schuch and the Night Heron Consort ( A Celtic Celebration, Vols. 1 and 2 ) performing on five selections, Read, David Tolk’s ensemble and the Latin guitarist Calido on two apiece (“Il Est ne le Divin Enfant,” “Angels We Have Heard on High” by Tolk, “I’ll Be Home for Christmas,” “Auld Lang Syne” by Calido). Not something I’d ordinarily review but I do make seasonal exceptions, especially when the Music for Holiday Joy and Celebration, even though devoid of any Jazz content, is melodious and charming.
Contact: North Star Records, 22 London St., East Greenwich, RI.
Web site: www.northstarmusic.com 02818.
Track Listing: Il Est ne le Divin Enfant; I Saw Three Ships / Deck the Halls; Angels We Have Heard on High; Silent Night; Good King Wenceslas; I
Personnel: Calido; Chris Caldwell and Friends; CommonGround; LunaMoon with Robin Spielberg; Otis Read and Friends; Steve Schuch and the Night Heron Consort; David Tolk.