Make a difference: Support jazz online

Support All About Jazz Your friends at All About Jazz are looking for readers to help back our website upgrade project. Of critical importance, this project will result in a vastly improved design across all devices and will make future All About Jazz projects much easier to implement. Click here to learn more about this project including donation rewards.

3

Richie Cole: Have Yourself an Alto Madness Christmas

Jack Bowers By

Sign in to view read count
Yes, there are jazz musicians who earn more bread than Richie Cole, and others who rank higher in the popularity contests that double as polls. There aren't many, however, who have more fun making music than the well-traveled alto saxophonist who, late in life, has found a place to call home in Pittsburgh, PA.

On Cole's superb new seasonal album, Have Yourself an Alto Madness Christmas, the warmth and happiness fairly burst from the leader's horn on such holiday favorites as "Let It Snow," "Sleigh Ride," "White Christmas" and "I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus," while the sincerity is palpable on "The Christmas Song," "O Christmas Tree" and "I'll Be Home for Christmas." There's ample room for playfulness as well, most notably on Cole's own compositions, "Bad Santa" and the irrepressible bossa "Mr. Grinch B. Bopsky" (a.k.a. "I've Grown Accustomed to Her Face"). Cole also wrote the charming—and most unusual—"Christmas in New England." His zealous rhythm section (Mark Lucas, guitar; Jeff Lashway, piano; Jeff Grubbs, bass; Reid Hoyson, drums) is amplified on three numbers by tenor saxophonist Mike Tomaro, trombonist Jeff Silverbush and trumpeter James Moore, and on three more by tenor Rick Matt, trombonist Reggie Watkins and trumpeter J.D. Chaisson.

Cole raises the curtain with Vince Guaraldi's Charlie Brown classic, "Christmas Time Is Here," which precedes Sammy Cahn / Jule Styne's light-hearted "Let It Snow," the venerable "O Christmas Tree" and the Bing Crosby hit from 1943, "I'll Be Home for Christmas." Later, there's room to rock 'n roll on the Elvis Presley favorite, "Blue Christmas," as well as on "Jingle Bell Rock." "Silver Bells" has been a holiday staple since it was introduced by Bob Hope and Marilyn Maxwell in the film The Lemon Drop Kid, while "Alto Madness Christmas" is the same "Merry Little Christmas" sung by Judy Garland in the Hollywood masterpiece, Meet Me in St. Louis (and reprised here by the Fabulous Altones: Carey Evans, Ian Kane and Reni Monteverde).

While his guests add color and variety on half a dozen selections, Cole reserves most of the solo space for his expressive alto—and that is by no means ill-advised. Even though he is now looking in the rear view mirror to see sixty, Cole remains at the top of his game; the technique is solid, the phrasing precise, the wellspring of ideas as plenteous as ever. Best of all, he is clearly having a wonderful time, as will those who reserve space for an Alto Madness Christmas on their holiday shopping list.

Track Listing: Christmas Time Is Here; Let It Snow; O Christmas Tree; I'll Be Home for Christmas; Mr. Grinch B Bopsky; I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus; Christmas in New England; Jingle Bell Rock; Bad Santa; White Christmas; Blue Christmas; Have Yourself an Alto Madness Christmas; A Song for Christmas; Silver Bells; Sleigh Ride; The Christmas Song

Title: Have Yourself an Alto Madness Christmas | Year Released: 2016 | Record Label: Self Produced

Tags

Related Video

comments powered by Disqus

More Articles

Read Lux CD/LP/Track Review Lux
by Karl Ackermann
Published: January 20, 2018
Read Unleashed CD/LP/Track Review Unleashed
by John Sharpe
Published: January 20, 2018
Read I Think I'm Going To Eat Dessert CD/LP/Track Review I Think I'm Going To Eat Dessert
by Jerome Wilson
Published: January 20, 2018
Read 20 CD/LP/Track Review 20
by Ian Patterson
Published: January 20, 2018
Read Roppongi CD/LP/Track Review Roppongi
by Mark Sullivan
Published: January 19, 2018
Read Is Life Long? CD/LP/Track Review Is Life Long?
by Mark Corroto
Published: January 19, 2018
Read "Back Before Bach: Musical Journeys" CD/LP/Track Review Back Before Bach: Musical Journeys
by C. Michael Bailey
Published: August 31, 2017
Read "Just Friends: Live at the Village Vanguard" CD/LP/Track Review Just Friends: Live at the Village Vanguard
by C. Michael Bailey
Published: September 19, 2017
Read "Unloved" CD/LP/Track Review Unloved
by Ian Patterson
Published: December 19, 2017
Read "Synesthesia" CD/LP/Track Review Synesthesia
by Chris Mosey
Published: October 29, 2017
Read "True Story" CD/LP/Track Review True Story
by Karl Ackermann
Published: January 5, 2018
Read "Living In Twilight" CD/LP/Track Review Living In Twilight
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: May 31, 2017