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Allen Toussaint & Friends: A New Orleans Christmas

Jim Santella By

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The various artists that appear on this 1997 Christmas album make it a cross-genre collection of R&B, C&W, pop/rock, blues, and jazz items suitable for infusing that annual Christmas spirit. Lead vocalists for the lyric-oriented Yuletide favorites include Raymond Myles, Larry Hamilton, Tricia Boutte, Grace Darling, Wallace Johnson, and James Andrews.

With Allen Toussaint’s spirited piano accompaniment and a Satchmo-inspired trumpet introduction, James Andrews sings "Christmas in New Orleans." Andrews’ bright trumpet melodies and lively vocalizing warm the room, as does the New Birth Brass Band on "Jingle Bells." As if marching through the streets, Andrews leads the band – tuba, snare drum, bass drum, and all – in a rousing rendition that includes informal singing as well. Grace Darling’s tenor sax introduces "Merry Christmas, Baby" in a vibrant rhythmic blues-based arrangement; her saxophone fills augment the ensemble’s organ/guitar accompaniment. Toussaint’s dramatic solo piano offerings of "Silent Night, Holy Night" and "Winter Wonderland" allow for his feelings of the seasonal music to be shared; one reverential and the other loose and carefree. With a "hot time in the old town tonight" party atmosphere cookin’ things up, the New Birth Brass Band ushers in "Santa’s Second Line" with its own unique charm; trombonist Corey Henry and trumpeter Andrews remind us of the traditional New Orleans jazz roots. The friends who show up for Allen Toussaint’s seasonal fest have various ways of expressing the same message: one of health & happiness.


Title: A New Orleans Christmas | Year Released: 1998 | Record Label: NYNO

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