How we rate: our writers tend to review music they like within their preferred genres.
Recorded earlier this year by contemporary artists, Playboy's Christmas gift will do much more than simply look good sitting under the tree. Combining lively salsa, smooth jazz and dramatic Afro-Cuban measures into one attractive package makes sense. This should appeal to a broad audience. Arturo Sandoval and Ed Calle work side by side to create charged particles. The ebb and flow of their dance movements makes for a festive evening. Poncho Sanchez and his band provide dramatic interpretations of classic Christmas songs. Sheila E. sings "Santa Baby" the way it was meant to be. Caribbean Jazz Project supplies several smooth jazz arrangements, while Pete Escovedo provides a vocal offering of the classic "Feliz Navidad." Like most of us, Playboy magazine founder Hugh Hefner remembers the development of Latin jazz from Dizzy Gillespie and Chano Pozo to Stan Kenton and Machito, followed by several critical waves in the limelight. Of course, the roots go back much earlier. A century of Latin influence has strengthened jazz in general. Like the mixture of traditional Afro-Cuban music and lively salsa presented at this year's Playboy Jazz Festival, the music tends to unify an audience. This Christmas gift serves to remind us of the traditional meaning of the holiday season, while adding lively rhythms that we can enjoy again and again.
Track Listing: Jingle Bells; Sleigh Ride; What Child Is This; Santa Claus is Coming to Town; Santa Baby; Angels We Have Heard on High; White Christmas; Silent Night; Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas; God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen; Feliz Navidad.
Personnel: Ed Calle- tenor saxophone, baritone saxophone, synthesizers, programming, flute, soprano saxophone, electric piano; Dave Valentin- flute; Justo Almario- soprano saxophone; Scott Martin- tenor saxophone; Melecio Magdaluyo- tenor saxophone, baritone saxophone; Arturo Sandoval, Jeff Kievit, Lewis Fasman, Jim Hacker, Sal Cracchiolo- trumpet; Dana Teboe, John Kricker, Jeff Kressman, Wayne Wallace, Francisco Torres- trombone; Dan Warner, Steve Khan, Ray Obiedo- guitar; Dave Samuels- vibraphone; Murray Low- keyboards; Jim Gasior, David Torres- piano; Tony Banda, Mark Van Wageningen- bass; Ruben Rodriguez, Nicky Orta- electric bass; Lee Levin, Paul Van Wageningen- drums; Dafnis Prieto- timbales, drums; Pete Escovedo- timbales, vocals; Ramon Banda- timbales; Juan Escovedo- congas; Poncho Sanchez- congas, chekere, percussion; Roberto Quintero- congas, percussion; Jose "Papo" Rodriguez- bata, chekere, bongos, percussion; Richard Bravo- percussion; Sheila E.- vocals, percussion; Lynn Maybry- vocals.