Anton Schwartz: Holiday Time (2003)
“Jingle Bells” opens with the out-of-tempo, re-harmonized verse as introduction. The first chorus swings out in a brisk, bluesy 4/4 over a 6/8 rhythm, followed by tantalizing 6/8 solos by Schwartz, then Hirahara. “Winter Wonderland,” again featuring Schwartz and Hirahara, is interestingly done as jazz-laced reggae, with sax overdubbing on the coda; it must be difficult to play the tenor sax with tongue planted firmly in cheek. At just under four minutes, this is the shortest selection of the five.
“The Christmas Song” is presented straight as a languorous ballad, demonstrating Schwartz’s full, rich, breathy tone and languid vibrato. Schwartz solos creatively, as does Wiitala on bass on the bridge, before Schwartz once again brings it home. On Leroy Anderson’s “Sleigh Ride,” one of the horses seems to have turned up lame; this roasted chestnut is refreshingly relieved from tedium by a crisp 7/4 Latin rhythm. The album deliciously concludes with an unexpected after-hours ballad, as Santa arrives “In the Wee Small Hours of the Morning.”
Play this on Christmas Eve with a glass of egg nog, and see if the “some assembly required” doesn’t proceed just a little bit easier...
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Track Listing: Jingle Bells; Winter Wonderland; The Christmas Song; Sleigh Ride; In the Wee Small Hours of the Morning
Personnel: Anton Schwartz (tenor sax), Art Hirahara (piano), John Wiitala (bass), and Tim Bulkley (drums)
Record Label: AntonJazz