Learn How

Help improve All About Jazz

Support All About Jazz All About Jazz needs your help and we have a deal. For $20, we'll hide those pesky Google ads and present exclusive content for a full year!

410

Nebraska Jazz Orchestra: Christmas Jazz

Jack Bowers By

Sign in to view read count
While I hesitate to use the word “best” when referring to music (as one too often has to swallow and digest that word), I can’t resist observing that the Nebraska Jazz Orchestra opens Christmas Jazz with the best arrangement of “The Little Drummer Boy” I’ve ever heard. It’s by the band’s talented young guitarist, transplanted Vermonter Peter Bouffard, and includes among its background riffs brief quotes from a large number of seasonal classics from “God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen” and “Frosty the Snowman” to “Deck the Halls” and “Santa Claus Is Comin’ to Town” — he even finds a place for “Auld Lang Syne.” The band, which has logged steady progress under music director/saxophonist Ed Love, is rock–steady throughout this colorful program of well–worn Christmas garments. There are six other engaging charts by Bouffard (including a rockin’ “Good King Wenceslas”), two by Mark Benson (“O Little Town of Bethlehem,” “Carol of the Bells”) and one each by Rex Cadwallader (“O Come, All Ye Faithful”) and Dave Sharp (“Sleigh Ride,” set to an uncommon shuffle rhythm). One ingredient the orchestra lacks at this phase in its development is a convincing vocalist; while Annette Murrell does the best she can (on “The Christmas Song,” “O Christmas Tree,” “Silent Night,” “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas”), we’d rather hear the band, which is in superior form on the incendiary “Carol of the Bells” and elsewhere. This is Volume VI in the Nebraska Jazz Orchestra’s recorded musical odyssey; I don’t know what became of Volumes I–III; I have IV–VI. Volume IV is generally unimpressive, on the order of a modestly rehearsed community band. Volume V, which covers the years 1992–96, is far superior, and VI continues along that path. There is more talent in the ranks, the orchestra plays with greater assurance and precision and is undaunted by the inclusion of strenuous charts. It’s never too early to prepare for the holiday season, and the Nebraska Jazz Orchestra’s Christmas Jazz can furnish a sumptuous musical backdrop for any plans one may have in mind.

Track listing: The Little Drummer Boy; The Christmas Song; We Three Kings; O Come, All Ye Faithful; Sleigh Ride; O Christmas Tree; O Little Town of Bethlehem; Carol of the Bells; Good King Wenceslas; Silent Night; Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas (54:32).

Personnel:

Tom Cliffton, Dave Sharp, alto, soprano sax; Mark Benson, alto sax; Ed Love, tenor, soprano sax, clarinet; Scott Vicroy, tenor, baritone sax, clarinet; Brian Morrow, tenor sax; Mike Murphy, baritone sax, bass clarinet; Jon Hischke, baritone sax; Dean Haist, Jeff Patton, Bob Krueger, Brad Obbink, Brian Grasmick, Mike Anderson, trumpets; Steve Henderson, Todd Thatcher, Arthur

| Record Label: American Music Corporation | Style: Big Band


Shop

More Articles

Read Hear & Now CD/LP/Track Review Hear & Now
Read Known-Unknown CD/LP/Track Review Known-Unknown
Read Live At Vilnius Jazz Festival CD/LP/Track Review Live At Vilnius Jazz Festival
Read Stinger CD/LP/Track Review Stinger
Read Binary CD/LP/Track Review Binary
Read Piano Song CD/LP/Track Review Piano Song
Read "Equal Crossing" CD/LP/Track Review Equal Crossing
Read "A Moment In Time" CD/LP/Track Review A Moment In Time
Read "Metamorphosis" CD/LP/Track Review Metamorphosis
Read "2016" CD/LP/Track Review 2016
Read "Rough Enough" CD/LP/Track Review Rough Enough
Read "Waltz About Nothing" CD/LP/Track Review Waltz About Nothing

Post a comment

comments powered by Disqus

Get Jazz Near You via email!

Enjoy the convenience of receiving a comprehensive listing of jazz events in your area every Thursday. It's free!