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Following Pamela Hines' career proves that the Boston-based pianist/composer is very good at three things (at least): swinging in the piano trio format, playing behind female vocalists, and writing engaging jazz tunes in both of those endeavors.
New Christmas is Hines' second CD foray into holiday music. It is a beautifully hip outing, eschewing the standard Christmas fair in favor of her own top notch tunes.
She brings a first-rate trio (bassist Dave Landoni and drummer Miki Matsuki) to the effort to play behind three of Boston's finest female vocalists: April Hall, Monica Hatch and Patrice Williamson. The opener, "Custom Santa," introduces Williamson, who scats like a very cool and soulful Christmas angel on a seriously swinging holiday song, with Hines and the guys in a loose groove behind her.
"What Chance Have I?" has April Hall's crystalline voice bemoaning heartache at holiday time, and "Starlights,"(featuring Monica Hatch) is a pensive gem, spiritually-toned, with a Hines solo of the lightest, loveliest, most delicate touch.
Hines also offers up a couple of characteristically fine trio cuts: an instrumental take on "Custom Santa," and the closer, an ebullient and uplifting "Twilight Joy."
New Christmas is an excellent offering of new holiday music from the pen and piano of Pamela Hines.
Track Listing: Custom Santa; What Chance Have I; Gift of Giving; Starlights; Custom Santa (Trio); Christmas Love; Christmas Joy; Ellen on Christmas; Twilight Joy.
I love jazz because anything is possible; it has few rules and the best jazz breaks those ones. I prefer free improv because it doesn't really have any rules at all.
I was first exposed to jazz in my teens (in the late sixties).
The first jazz record I bought was Filles de Kilimanjaro by Miles Davis, shortly followed by Extrapolation by John McLaughlin.
My advice to new listeners is to listen as widely as possible and not to make snap judgments--stick with it.