Christmas III: Bright Copper Kettles...
All the tracks sound fresh and sonically scrubbed. While Kenton may have always been a bit over-the-top as an orchestra leader, he's shown in perfect balance with his ambition on The Stan Kenton Christmas Carols. The Boston Brass sublimely capture both the spirit of Kenton and the holiday season, providing the listener with an exceptional musical experience.
Joyful! does not strictly belong under a holiday music heading. But the Christmas canon (that assembly of musical pieces associated with the holiday season) is not a static entity, and allows consideration of music off the beaten path. I add to the canon Pete Malinverni's Joyful!, which features gospel-jazz settings for selected psalms. Joyful! employs a mass choir from New York City's Devoe Street Baptist Church, with soloists and a jazz quintet. The result is a jazz-gospel-blues fusion oratorio celebrating the Christian/Christmas tradition.
Each selection is accompanied by the Reverend Frederick Ennette narrating selections from the psalms chosen by Malinverni. The musical and textual themes are upbeat, with Malinverni demonstrating his sprite composition and arrangement skills. He surrounds the sacred passages with the earthy sensuality of gospel-infused jazz and blues. The soloists, both vocal and instrumental, are uniformly inspired as they sing over hard bop-inspired harmonies and melodies. Malinverni's piano is fully informed and seamlessly moves through the genera shades of his arrangements.
This is stand-up, clap-your-hands, dance around, spirit-filled music that plants itself in the listener's head, inviting itself to be played over and over again. As an added bonus, the digipak contains a DVD with interviews and concert footage of the performance, that when viewed will increase appreciation for Malinverni's vision and ambition.
Tracks and Personnel
Jazz Yule Love
Tracks: We Three Kings; White Christmas; Winter Wonderland; Sleigh Ride; It's The Most Wonderful Time Of The Year; Christmas Heart; O Tannenbaum; Silent Night; O Come All Ye Faithful; A Child Is Born; Joy To The World; Angels We Have Heard On High.
Personnel: Eastern Rebellion featuring Cedar Walton; Terry Gibbs Quartet; Pillars Of West Coast Jazz; George Shearing; Pete Jolly Trio; Les McCann Trio; Teddy Edwards; Eugene Maslov Trio; Kenny Burrell Quartet.
Jazz Yule Love, Vol. 2
Tracks: Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas; Jingle Bells; God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen; Air On A Six String; I'll Be Home For Christmas; Dance Natal (Dance Of The Sugar Plum Faeries); Let It Snow; Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas; Chipmunk Song; O Holy Night; Another Year.
Personnel: Sean Jones; Gerald Wilson Orchestra; Hot Club Of Detroit; Oscar Castro-Neves; Ilona Knopfler; Bud Shank Quartet; Ilona Knopfler; Oscar Brown, Jr.
The Stan Kenton Christmas Carols
Tracks: Good King Wenceslas; God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen; We Three Kings Of Orient Are; Once In Royal David's City; The Holly And The Ivy; Greensleeves; O Tannenbaum; Angels We Have Heard On High; O Holy Night; The Twelve Days Of Christmas; Adeste Fideles; Christmas Medley; Motown Jingle Bells.
Personnel: Rich Kelley, Jeff Conner, Jens Lindermann, Scott Thornburg: trumpets; JD Shaw, Chris Cooper, Jeff Nelson, Jeff Stockham: horns; Ed Clough, Joe Columbo, Scott Hartman, Mark Frost: trombones; Andrew Hitz: tuba; Dan Hostetler: drums; Michael Bull: percussion; Bill DiCosimo: piano; Matt Vaconti: bass.
Tracks: Make Joyful Noise; The Lord Is Good; O, Lord, Thou Hast Searched Me And Known Me; Let The Earth Shake; Let The Sea Roar; To The Rock; Whither Shall I Run?; Merciful And Gracious; I lift Up My Soul; It Is He.
Personnel: Steve Wilson: alto saxophone; Joe Magnarelli: trumpet, flugelhorn; Pete Malinverni: piano, conductor; Todd Coolman: bass; Duane Broadnax: drums; Frederick C Ennette, Jr.: narrator; The Devoe Street Baptist Church Choir: vocals.