447

Jennifer Stanley: Christmas

C. Michael Bailey By

Sign in to view read count
Jennifer Stanley: Christmas

It’s a most wonderful disc...

Indiana-native Jennifer Stanley is a jazzy fresh breeze softly blowing in from the heartland. She follows her independently produced debut disc , Where I Want to Be, with a swinging holiday offering. Christmas is a collection of holiday standards presented in a jazz trio/quartet format with and without strings (a standard string quartet). The trio, manned by pianist Frank Puzzullo leading bassist Hans Sturm and drummer Dane Richeson, provide Ms. Stanley a solid and swinging foundation for her seasonal recital. Noted guitarist Tim Berens is also on hand for several pieces.

Ms. Stanley has an immediately engaging and accessible mezzo voice, strong in its high end and midrange. Her phrasing is crystalline and tasteful, devoid of excesses typical of many of today’s female jazz singers. Ms. Stanley prefers to present these holiday treasures in a conservative and mainstream manner rather than experimenting with any jazz vocal fireworks. This makes this recording an immediate recommendation for those who prefer their jazz confidently mainstream.

The disc opens with standard, but appealing "Winter Wonderland" and "A Most Wonderful Time of the Year." Ms. Stanley and her band are relaxed and strolling. Things begin to heat up and become interesting on the brilliantly off-time "Jingle Bells," where Ms. Stanley doubles her voice on the introduction, producing an original and attractive alternative to every other version one has heard this song. "What Child is This," based on a 16th Century English melody, carries the rhythmic lilt of John Coltrane’s 1961 recording on The Complete 1961 Village Vanguard Recordings (GRP 232, 1997). Ms. Stanley approaches the melody as a waltz with some complicated vocalese that adds to the songs timeless appeal.

"The Christmas Song" is warm and inviting, like a fire on Christmas evening. The whole group is on hand for this Mel Torme classic, with Berens offering some tasty guitar filigree. The string quartet adds just the right amount of good cheer. "Silent Night" is reminiscent of Kathleen Battle’s treatment on Wynton Marsalis’ A Crescent City Christmas Card (Sony Special Products 28812, 1991), while being superior to that version because of the elegantly spare accompaniment provided by Puzzullo and the band. This spare accompaniment is true throughout the recording. Puzzullo and the band allow Ms. Stanley’s voice to breathe unencumbered, with all of the room necessary to convey her message. "Let it Snow" is bouncy, "Sleigh Ride" strolling and "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas" sleepy from Christmas dinner. In fact, this disc should fit in perfectly with Christmas dinner.

Truly central to the disc are "God Rest Ye Merry, Gentleman" and "Joy to the World." On the former, Ms. Stanley reminds us what the meaning of the season is, confidently and surely. It is fresh and vital to hear the "Good News" presented in such an original and reverent (well, reverent for jazz) fashion. "Joy to the World," whose theme was composed by George Frederic Handel, is the most daring of all of the interpretations here. I suspect that Handel would be tapping his foot in his Westminster Abbey grave.

Jennifer Stanley captures perfectly the spirit of Christmas with her fresh, wholesomely sexy voice, full of hope and praise—honor and joy, merrily proclaiming the true Reason for the Season.

Ms. Stanley's recordings may be purchased at www.jenniferstanley.com


Track Listing: Winter Wonderland; The Most Wonderful Time; Jingle Bells; The Christmas Song; What Child Is This; Silent Night; Let It Snow; Sleigh Ride; God Rest Ye Merry Gentleman; Joy To The World; Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas.

Personnel: Jennifer Stanley

Year Released: 2002 | Record Label: Independent Records | Style: Straight-ahead/Mainstream


Shop

More Articles

Read Road to Forever CD/LP/Track Review Road to Forever
by Jack Bowers
Published: February 27, 2017
Read Avenida Graham CD/LP/Track Review Avenida Graham
by Edward Blanco
Published: February 27, 2017
Read TAI Fest #1 (Vol.1&2) CD/LP/Track Review TAI Fest #1 (Vol.1&2)
by Nicola Negri
Published: February 27, 2017
Read Goat Man & The House of the Dead CD/LP/Track Review Goat Man & The House of the Dead
by Dave Wayne
Published: February 27, 2017
Read Backlog CD/LP/Track Review Backlog
by James Nadal
Published: February 27, 2017
Read Acceptance CD/LP/Track Review Acceptance
by Tyran Grillo
Published: February 26, 2017
Read "Americana" CD/LP/Track Review Americana
by Franz A. Matzner
Published: July 25, 2016
Read "The Edge of Visibility" CD/LP/Track Review The Edge of Visibility
by Jim Olin
Published: April 1, 2016
Read "Work" CD/LP/Track Review Work
by Mark Corroto
Published: March 13, 2016
Read "Sedimental You" CD/LP/Track Review Sedimental You
by Karl Ackermann
Published: October 29, 2016
Read "Endemic Ensemble: Tangled" CD/LP/Track Review Endemic Ensemble: Tangled
by Paul Rauch
Published: December 3, 2016
Read "Butterflies Fly in Pairs" CD/LP/Track Review Butterflies Fly in Pairs
by Karl Ackermann
Published: April 22, 2016

Post a comment

comments powered by Disqus

Sponsor: Jazz Near You | GET IT  

Support our sponsor

Support All About Jazz's Future

We need your help and we have a deal. Contribute $20 and we'll hide the six Google ads that appear on every page for a full year!

Buy it!