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New York Voices: Let It Snow

Edward Blanco By

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New York Voices is unquestionably one of the finest singing ensembles ever assembled and with Let It Snow, lend their quality vocals to the wintery season of cheer delivering a powerful performance of familiar Christmas songs sure to be regarded as a future holiday classic. Kim Nazarian , Lauren Kinhan , Peter Eldridge and founding member and tenor vocalist Darmon Meader, have been planning this project for some time after adding Christmas tunes to their December concerts many years ago. The music is traditional, the arrangements are new and innovative with much of the vocal arrangements provided by Meader and orchestrations contributed by a host of talents among them, vocalist and arranger Michele Weir, Pat Hollenbeck of the Boston Pop fame and multiple Grammy Award-winning arranger Don Sebesky.

Selecting a repertoire of oft-recorded songs was not a difficult challenge, making them sound new and refreshing may have been a task, one that Meader and crew accomplish quite well here. The thirteen Christmas songs are performed in a variety of settings using a standard six-piece rhythm section accompanied by a thirty-one piece studio orchestra on five tracks, a thirteen-piece big band on four songs, a septet on "I Wonder As I Wander," as well as wonderful a cappella treatments of religious songs like "O Come, O Come Emmanuel," and "Silent Night."

Sebesky's big band arrangement of the title song kicks off the music in high gear complete with some appreciable scatting and a tenor saxophone solo from Meader and ending in a crescendo of vocals. One of the highlights of the album is the medley of Mel Torme's classic "The Christmas Song" and the standard "Christmas Time Is Here." Another big band piece not to be missed is the swinging "O, Little Town of Bethlehem" featuring Bob Mann on a guitar solo. Peter Eldridge takes the center with lead vocals on the religious ballad "O Come, All Ye Faithful" while Kinhan and Nazarian are featured on the big band rendition of "The Merry Medley."

The Christmas standard "We Wish You A Merry Christmas" is the last large ensemble, high-octane piece featuring the brass, pianist Andy Ezrin and a raucous vocal explosion. Whether featuring lovely ballads, a swinging big band background, light orchestrations from a studio ensemble or pure a cappella vocals, New York Voices unwraps the enchanting Let It Snow as the newest Christmas present to the jazz world; one musical gift one may not mind playing, year after year.

Track Listing: Let It Snow; Christmas Song/Christmas Time; O, Little Town of Bethlehem; O Come, O Come Emmanuel; We Three Kings; Holiday For Strings; Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas; Sleepers, Wake!; O Come All Ye Faithful; The Merry Medley; I Wonder As I Wander; We Wish You A Merry Christmas; Silent Night.

Personnel: Darmon Meader: vocals, tenor saxophone, soprano saxophone; Kim Nazarian: vocals; Lauren Kinhan: vocals; Peter Eldridge: vocals; Andy Ezrin: piano; Paul Nowinski: bass (1-3, 6, 12); Marcello Pellitteri: drums (1-3, 6, 12); Bob Mann: guitar (1-3); David Finck: bass (5, 9- 11); Ben Wittman: drums (5, 9-11); Big Band (1, 3, 10, 12): Tyler Kuebler: alto saxophone; Andy Axelrad: alto saxophone; Tedd Baker: tenor saxophone; Grant Langford: tenor saxophone; Doug Morgan: baritone saxophone; Brian MacDonald: trumpet; Kevin Burns: trumpet; Rich Sigler: trumpet; Tim Leahey: trumpet; Joe Jackson: trombone; Jim McFalls: trumpet; Dave Perkel: trumpet; Lee Gause: trumpet; Studio Orchestra (2, 5, 6, 8, 9): Mari Washington: violin; Emily Barnes: violin; Greg Pinney: violin; Mark Dorosheff: violin; Ni Santiago: violin; Nathan Wisniewski: violin; Bill Tortolano: violin; Marlisa del Cid Woods : violin; Judy Cho: violin; Monika Dorosheff: violin; Bryce Bunner: viola; Cathy Scarborough: viola; Dana Rokosny: viola; Julius Wirth: viola; Christine Lightner: cello; Sammuel Swift: cello; David Cho: cello; Chris Kosky: contrabass; John Barger: contrabass; Nathan Clark: trumpet; Matthew Misener: trumpet; Mike Brest: trumpet; Brandon Chaney: trombone; Jeff Gaylord: trombone; Jay Heltzer: trombone; Joel Wealer: horn; David Balandrin: horn; Stacy Ascione: flute; Julianna Arnold: clarinet; Josh Arvizu: oboe, English horn; Eddie Sanders: bassoon.

Title: Let It Snow | Year Released: 2013 | Record Label: Self Produced

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