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With a casual atmosphere that recalls long winter evenings at your favorite nightclub, David Leonhardt and his musical partners interpret this program of holiday favorites in the jazz tradition. The pianist brings a warm glow to each song. They're exciting, and yet Leonhardt manages to put more into each piece than is usually found this time of the year. He fashions each interpretation so that it stands out as an improvised work that the group can explore thoroughly. Together, they turn over clusters of brightness that come surrounded by a hearty rhythmic foundation.
With "Jingle Bells," for example, the pianist turns loose a cannonade of keyboard attacks over a natural New Orleans shuffle rhythm. The trio makes this one fit the season with images of holiday cheer and outdoor fun. "I'll Be Home for Christmas" strikes a somber chord as Larry McKenna's tenor delivers the featured melody convincingly.
Nancy Reed is featured on five of the album's fifteen tracks with a proud voice that coats each of these traditional holiday favorites with jazz attire. She interprets lyrics convincingly and scat sings with authority. Not merely a vocal interpreter, Reed serves as a vital member of the group, adding her voice to the mix as a representative instrument from the jazz community.
David Leonhardt's recommended Christmas album provides adventurous interpretations of favorite holiday songs with a welcome jazz spirit that carries through the entire year.
Track Listing: Let it Snow, Let it Snow, Let it Snow; O Christmas Tree; Winter Wonderland; We Three Kings; Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas; Jingle Bells; Santa Claus is Comin' to Town; I'll Be Home for Christmas; God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen; Sleigh Ride; It Came Upon a Midnight Clear; Frosty the Snowman; The Christmas Song; Here Comes Santa Claus; White Christmas.
Personnel: David Leonhardt: piano; Matthew Parrish: bass; Taro Okamoto: drums; Larry McKenna:
tenor and soprano saxophone; Nancy Reed: vocals.
I love jazz because it mixes intellect and emotion in a very spontaneous way.
I was first exposed to jazz by liberating a Coltrane and a Pharoah Sanders record from a friend in NYC and listening to them over and over until I got it.
My advice to new listeners is you have to take the time to listen to some jazz tunes a number of times until it starts to make sense.