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With his warm and sincere holiday greeting, guitarist Royce Campbell combines mainstream jazz with the Christmas tradition. His wealth of experience has taught him to treasure these holiday songs. Nineteen years as Henry Mancini's guitarist, plus numerous tours with singers Mel Tormé, Cleo Laine, Perry Como, and Marvin Gaye, have given Campbell an appreciation for the deep meaning that these songs convey year after year. The acoustic timbres of his trio allow the music to flow naturally.
With a mellow tone and crystal clear articulation, the guitarist interprets each of these traditional favorites as jazz trio adventures. Filled with outside quotes and spontaneous forays, the trio's cool passion allows for many happy returns. Campbell's guitar solos with melodic authority, Tom Baldwin's upright bass steps out with adventurous designs, and Howard Curtis' drums provides a light but sturdy foundation. The trio likes to present its interpretations as lightly Latin or slightly blue. Campbell swings gently and puts a wealth of rhythmic joy into each piece.
"Winter Wonderland" flows smoothly with a windswept melody, but as Campbell and Baldwin step out to solo, the scene changes quickly from one of peaceful landscapes to one filled with spontaneous surprises. Both artists fit the jazz tradition into their interpretations comfortably. Curtis' fours allow them to converse as naturally as neighbors over the backyard fence.
Recorded separately, Campbell's "Live Every Day Like Christmas" features Everette Greene's warm baritone voice with strings. Marking the solemn spirit of the holiday season, Greene and Campbell remind us how important it is to accept the spirit at this time of the year and to carry it with us all year 'round.
"The Christmas Song" closes the album with warm thoughts of a cozy fireplace and loved ones by your side. That's what the holidays are for. With his recommended album, guitarist Royce Campbell helps us to retain that spirit throughout the year.
Track Listing: Let it Snow, Let it Snow, Let it Snow; White Christmas; Live Every Day Like Christmas; O Christmas Tree; I'll Be Home for Christmas; Winter Wonderland; Santa Claus is Coming to Town; Toyland; Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas; We Three Kings; The Christmas Song.
Personnel: Royce Campbell: guitar; Tom Baldwin: bass; Howard Curtis: drums; Everette Greene: vocal on "Live Every Day Like Christmas."
I love jazz because anything is possible; it has few rules and the best jazz breaks those ones. I prefer free improv because it doesn't really have any rules at all.
I was first exposed to jazz in my teens (in the late sixties).
The first jazz record I bought was Filles de Kilimanjaro by Miles Davis, shortly followed by Extrapolation by John McLaughlin.
My advice to new listeners is to listen as widely as possible and not to make snap judgments--stick with it.