Sparkling holiday music from the Washington, DC area group Chaise Lounge. Calling what they do "martini-jazz" gives them license to toss just about anything into the stylistic mix, and they have an eclectic good time with it. The use of "Christmas" in the album title is a bit of a misnomer, since only about half of the songs actually are Christmas songsthe rest have more general holiday or winter season themes. The opener, a jump blues cover of Jimmy Charles' 1960 hit "Christmasville USA," gets things off to an exuberant start. "Mister Santa" (the 1950s a capella hit "Mr. Sandman" with seasonal lyrics) subverts expectations with its Dixieland arrangement, while the traditional "Good King Wenceslas" has the non-traditional instrumentation of guitar, hand drums, and accordion.
Guitarist/pianist Charlie Barnett provides three strong original additions to the holiday song canon: "December 25," the ballad "The Heart of December," and the exuberant "Snow Day" (which will bring a smile to anyone whose childhood included those wonderful unscheduled days off from school). It's a crack sextet, but special honors have to go to winning vocalist Marilyn Older, who is never less than charming, and ready for every stylistic twist that is thrown at her.
It's a fun-filled half hour, enjoyable even to a Grinch like me who is no fan of holiday music. Highly recommended if you enjoy holiday music with a bit of jazz flavor.
Christmasville U.S.A.; December 25; Mister Santa; Good King Wenceslas; The Heart
of December;Snow Day; The Man With the Bag; Cool Yule; The Little Drummer Boy;
Lo, How a Rose E're Blooming.
Marilyn Older: vocals; Charlie Barnett: guitar, piano; Tommy Barrick: drums; John
Jensen: trombone; Gary Gregg: sax, clarinet, flute; Pete Ostle: bass, tuba.