Straight-ahead jazz should be creative enough to fire the imagination with music above and beyond the tried and true formula that’s brought to us year in and year out. And yet the tradition must be maintained. These holiday songs simply cannot be turned into playthings for the avant-gardist to toy with. Scott Oakley and his two veteran partners recognize this necessary quality and apply creative colors to each of these holiday staples. The pianist mixes tone clusters and splashes of melody on the songs we’ve grown up with.
Sitting beside the Christmas tree on that magical morning with Oakley’s trio purring from the living room stereo sure makes a lot of sense. Just try to be patient with your noisy guests and family members. Replay the album in the afternoon when they’ve all gone to the movies. Darek Oles and Joe La Barbera solo frequently with a gentle spirit and lyrical intentions. Brushes and sticks change hands for effect, and La Barbera finds the right texture every time. Oakley has studied with Jaki Byard and George Russell. He learned a few lessons from Madame Chaloff as well. He takes charge of each Christmas carol and massages it into a comfortable fit for the straight-ahead jazz lover. Jazz for the Holidays, recorded in October, was released this year in honor of the American Liver Foundation. It comes to us as a gift – a fine companion for this holiday season.
Track Listing: God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen; Silent Night; Santa Claus is Coming to
Town; It Came Upon a Midnight Clear; White Christmas; Let it Snow, Let it
Snow, Let it Snow; Winter Wonderland; The Christmas Song; O
Tannenbaum; Little Drummer Boy; Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer;
Greensleeves; Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas; Here Comes Santa
Personnel: Scott Oakley- piano; Darek Oles- bass; Joe La Barbera- drums.
I love jazz because it is both challenging and exhilarating, and the endeavor of improvisation is the highest form of art.
I met so many great musicians--including my two earliest heroes, Maynard Ferguson and Dizzy Gillespie--by attending concerts
and being willing to treat them with the respect they deserve.
The best show I ever attended was the Pat Metheny/Ornette Coleman Song X concert at Cornell University.
The first jazz record I bought was an RCA compilation by Dizzy Gillespie.
My advice to new listeners is to not be afraid to listen to something because you're not familiar with the artists or the band or
the genre or anything - this is music that is best experienced through discovery.