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Dianne Reeves puts her personal touch on each of these Christmas carols. Nothing remains ordinary. Each arrangement lets her flow with the freedom that she has always enjoyed in her performances.
Reeves' voice makes each of these traditional pieces float with heartfelt joy. "Chestnuts roasting on an open fire," she sings. The scene comes to life as natural as any other day of the season. Peace settles in gracefully.
"Santa Claus is on his way / loads of joy on his sleigh / this time of the year / when Christmas is near," go the touching lyrics to the album's title track. Vince Guaraldi wrote that. It's one that we'll never forget. He provided us with a major piece of our contemporary holiday tradition. And Dianne Reeves now enters that tradition, as she releases her debut holiday album. What a joy.
Saxophonist Steve Wilson and vibraphonist Joe Locke provide a hearty musical companionship through several numbers. Pianist Peter Martin, her regular musical partner, ensures that the session will follow gracefully from start to finish. Guitarist Romero Lubambo provides stirring accolades on several traditional carols, particularly with "Christmas Waltz."
But, it's the unique manner in which Reeves interprets her music that makes this highly recommended jazz album so appealing. She contrasts slow and moody portions with energetic episodes, and she clears the air with vocal emphasis. Every time she explores wordless vocals, the songs jump right off the paper. She makes them her own. Hers is a world sensibility. Through her Christmas album, Reeves is able to capture a universal spirit and open it up for all to enjoy.
Track Listing: Little Drummer Boy; Carol of the Bells; Christmas Time is Here; This Time of the Year; Christmas Waltz; I'll Be Home For Christmas; Christ Child's Lullaby; A Child Is Born; The Christmas Song; Let It Snow; Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas.
Personnel: Dianne Reeves- vocals; Peter Martin- piano; Reuben Rogers- bass; Gregory Hutchinson- drums; Romero Lubambo- guitar; Steve Wilson- alto saxophone; Joe Locke- vibraphone on "Carol of the Bells;" Munyungo Jackson- percussion on "Little Drummer Boy" and "I'll Be Home for Christmas;" Sirius String Quartet- on "Christ Child's Lullaby."
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.