A Cool World Christmas: Carla Bley, Trio West and Wynton Marsalis
"Jingle Bells" channels cornet legend King Oliver and clarinetist Johnny Dodds through Marsalis and the supremely talented Goines. "Go Tell It On The Mountain" is a rave up where Don Vappie show the importance of the banjo in jazz. The first part of the spiritual is taken at a fast clip where Gordon delivers his trombone solo with exuberant abandon. Gordon then changes to tuba, slowing the song to a march. He proceeds to perform a svelte tuba solo with a smile as big as trumpeter Louis Armstrong's. Wessell Anderson blows a mean alto, too.
Finally, the man of the hour, Wynton Marsalis, gives a clinic on every trumpet style from Buddy Bolden to Miles Davis. His arrangements and band- leading are without peer, making Christmas Jazz Jam a grand book end to A Crescent City Christmas Card.
Visit Wynton Marsalis on the web.
Plays Holiday Songs, Vol. 2
Yummy House Records
Drummer Tobias Gebb and Trio West's debut release was the much praised Trio West Plays Holiday Songs (Yummy House Records, 2007). That takes a bit of testicular fortitude on the part of Gebb and company. Trio West Plays Holiday Songs was superb in every way, grandly recalling Vince Guaraldi's classic Charlie Brown soundtracks without being rote imitations. The trio returns with another collection, Trio West Plays Holiday Songs, Vol. 2, this time making a masters seminar out of the recorded recital.
On the first collection, Trio West provided two competing versions of "The Little Drummer Boy." The band extends this on Vol. 2, going so far as to title the performances differently. "We Three Kings" is given a straight and Coltrane's "My Favorite Things" a waltz treatment. Likewise for "Joy To The World" which is rolled as a Tito Puente samba. "O Tannenbaum" is presented as a Horace Silver hard bop ("Funk") and a Chico O'Farrill Latin tinge ("Salsa"). These different performances offer contrasting visions of arranging and show off the excellent musicianship of the trio.
Trio West's holiday offerings provide that extremely cool brand of piano trio jazz that is archetypal of the genre. Both discs, but Vol. 2 more so, illustrate the breadth of jazz performance, existing as education pieces to the enjoyed. When was the last time you learned so much from something so fun?
Visit Trio West on the web.
Tracks and Personnel
Carla's Christmas Carols
Tracks: O Tannenbaum; Away In A Manger; The Christmas Song; Ring Christmas Bells; God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen Part One; God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen Part Two; It Came Upon A Midnight Clear; Hell's Bells; Jesus Maria; Jingle Bells; O Holy Night; Joy To The World.
Personnel: Carla Bley: piano, celeste; Steve Swallow: bass, chimes. Partyka Brass Quintet: Tobias Weidinger: trumpet, flugelhorn (lead), glockenspiel; Axel Schlosser: trumpet, flugelhorn (soloist), chimes; Christine Chapman: horn; Adrian Mears: trombone; Ed Partyka: bass trombone, tuba.
Plays Holiday Songs, Vol. 2
Tracks: We Three Kings; O Tannenbaum Funk; Joy To The World; Jingle Bells; Noel; Oh Come All Ye faithful; O Tannenbaum Salsa; Joy To The World Samba; We Three Kings Waltz; Auld Lang Syne.
Personnel: Eldad Zvulun: piano; Neil Miner: bass; Tobias Gebb: drums.
Christmas Jazz Jam
Tracks: Santa Claus Is Coming To Town; Mary Had A Baby; Jingle Bells; Blue Christmas Go Tell It On The Mountain; O Christmas Tree; O Little Town Of Bethlehem; Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer; The Christmas Song; Good King Wenceslas; Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas; Greensleeves.
Personnel: Wynton Marsalis: trumpet; Victor Goines: clarinet, tenor and soprano saxophone; Wessel Anderson: alto saxophone; Walter Blanding: tenor & soprano saxophones; Paul Nedzela: baritone saxophone and bass clarinet; Wycliffe Gordon: trombone and tuba; Vincent Garden: trombone; Don Vappie: banjo, guitar and vocals; Dan Nimmer: piano; Reginald Veal: bass; Herlin Riley: drums; Roberta Guembels: vocals.