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It’s a smooth jazz Christmas. Most of this program is exactly what you’d expect: sax lead, programmed backgrounds and drum loops, lightweight improvisations (although Doc Powell’s guitar on “Let It Snow” is appealing). The first eight songs stay close to the formula, and it’s pretty predictable, mechanical, and at times downright sterile. But whoever sequenced the CD saved the best for last; the final three songs are the most rewarding of the lot. “Christmas Eve”, the only original on the program, is a nice addition to the holiday repertoire, and Billy Valentine provides a warm, friendly vocal. “It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year” sways happily in 6/8 time, with occasional shifted accents – it’s a nice arrangement. Kathleen Bertrand’s rich gospel vocal on “Oh Come All Ye Faithful”, backed by piano and synth strings, is a complete departure for the smooth jazz that permeates the rest of this CD, and a nice way to close the disc.
Track Listing: Winter Wonderland (Jeff Lorber); Let It Snow (Doc Powell); Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas (Eddie M); The Christmas Song (Michael Lington); Feliz Navidad (Jango); I
Personnel: (in addition to the featured performers listed above) Patrick Lamb
Years ago now--in Rhodesia--listening to Voice of America with Willis Conover I heard Bunk Johnson play When The Saints Go Marching In, and Billie Holiday sing Don't Explain. I knew then there was no other life for me than jazz.