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Various Artists: 40 Years: A Charlie Brown Christmas

Jim Santella By

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Various Artists: 40 Years: A Charlie Brown Christmas Oh, to be a child again and to spend Christmas morning surrounded by the things that Santa Claus left you overnight...

Bringing us those Charlie Brown memories from our early television years is an all-star lineup of smooth jazz artists who appreciate the music as much as we do. Surrounded by a large studio orchestra, each performer steps forward and delivers Christmas cheer the Charlie Brown way. It drives straight to your heart.

Vanessa Williams sings "Just Like Me" with an air of encouragement that emphasizes the camaraderie shared by Charlie Brown and his friends. We were all once a part of that, and the true meaning never fades.

Toni Braxton sings "It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year" and melts the snow with her bright appeal. Rick Braun interprets "My Little Drum" with somber echoes that resound over the true meaning of Christmas. His reminder serves the spirit especially well, as he improvises with heartfelt passion through a cool jazz ambience. Guitarist Norman Brown offers a lightweight romp over "Skating" with an acoustic trio, while pianist David Benoit performs "Christmas is Coming" with studio orchestra and "Für Elise" unaccompanied.

Saxophonist Eric Marienthal interprets "Christmas Time is Here" on alto with a tear in his eye, capturing the warmth that we remember from our visits with Charlie Brown. "Red Baron" is performed by the Rippingtons, with a steely smooth jazz flirtation. Chaka Khan sings "The Christmas Song" alone with acoustic piano trio in a down-home, family-oriented setting. Her offering serves as a suitable Christmas card greeting; she interprets the lyrics with soul and adds spontaneous scat singing.

Gerald Albright interprets "O Tannenbaum" on alto with a light, smooth jazz spirit that recalls the gaiety of Charlie Brown's annual specials. Brian McKnight sings "Christmas Time is Here" alone with an intimate acoustic quartet that elevates the music with open arms.

Dave Koz offers a Latin jazz interpretation of the "Linus and Lucy" theme on soprano saxophone that steals the show. Charlie Brown remains a part of all of us, and Vince Guaraldi's music is meant to be shared all, the whole year round.

Track Listing: Christmas is Coming; Just Like Me; Linus and Lucy; It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year; My Little Drum; Skating; Christmas Time is Here; O Tannenbaum; Red Baron; The Christmas Song; Fr Elise; Christmas Time is Here.

Personnel: Gerald Albright; David Benoit; Rick Braun; Toni Braxton; Norman Brown; Chaka Khan; Dave Koz; Eric Marienthal; Brian McKnight; The Rippingtons; Vanessa Williams; others.

Year Released: 2005 | Record Label: Peak Records | Style: Contemporary/Smooth


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CD/LP/Track Review
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