All About Jazz

Home » Articles » CD/LP/Track Review

103

Bill Cunliffe: That Time of Year

Dan McClenaghan By

Sign in to view read count
There's always the danger of getting all schmaltzy with Christmas music, but jazz people are hipper than average and can usually come up with something appropriately cool to spin around holiday time. That's exactly what pianist/composer Bill Cunliffe has done with That Time of Year.

Cunliffe is a versatile artist who is comfortable in any size ensemble—from his Blues and the Abstract Truth, Take 2 (Resonance Records, 2008) to his Grammy-winning arrangement on Resonance Big Band's Plays Tribute to Oscar Peterson (Resonance, 2009)—but the Christmas mood finds him going it alone, showcasing his considerable piano chops on a set that opens with a contemplative and tranquil turn on "Angels From the Realms of Glory" which, rather than sounding hip, has a feeling of deep reverence.

It's the second cut, "God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen" that announces the jazz tinge to the music, with a bluesy, rollicking take on this familiar tune. "On a Christmas Day" brings in a stately atmosphere, a religious hue to the sound, leading into the crisp and jaunty "Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy."

Cunliffe opens up that most familiar of Christmas tunes, "Jingle Bells," as a ballad, before shifting into a jazzier gear, a high-RPM workout as cool as the Bill Evans Trio's rendition of "Santa Claus is Coming to Town" from Trio 64 (Verve Records, 1964). "Silent Night" is simply beautiful in Cunliffe's hands, at a slower tempo that allows the savoring of every resonant note, while "Carol of the Bells" is edgy and dark-toned, until it slips into a bouncy stride piano groove.

The set closes with vocalist Denise Donatelli sitting in on "I'll be Home for Christmas." It is a wistful, soulful and hopeful late night close to an excellent Christmas set.

Track Listing: Angels From The Realms Of Glory; God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen; On Christmas Day; Dance Of The Sugar Plum Fairy; Lo, How A Rose E'er Blooming; O Little Town Of Bethlehem; O Christmas Tree; We Three Kings; 'Tis The Season; Coventry Carol; Jingle Bells; Silent Night; Carol Of The Bells; I'll Be Home For Christmas.

Personnel: Bill Culiffe: piano; Denise Donatelli: vocals (14).

Title: That Time of Year | Year Released: 2011 | Record Label: Self Produced

Tags

comments powered by Disqus

Sleepers Wake

Sleepers Wake

Bill Cunliffe
BACHanalia

Cascades

Cascades

Bill Cunliffe
The Blues and The Abstract...

CD/LP/Track Review
Big Band Report
CD/LP/Track Review
Interviews
CD/LP/Track Review
Read more articles
BACHanalia

BACHanalia

Metro
2017

buy
Playground Swing

Playground Swing

Self Produced
2015

buy
River Edge, New Jersey

River Edge, New Jersey

Azica Records
2013

buy
That Time of Year

That Time of Year

Self Produced
2011

buy
Bill Cunliffe: The Blues and the Abstract Truth, Take 2

Bill Cunliffe: The...

Resonance Records
2008

buy
Imaginacion

Imaginacion

Torii Records
2005

buy

Related Articles

Read Orientation CD/LP/Track Review
Orientation
by Troy Dostert
Published: February 18, 2018
Read Romaria CD/LP/Track Review
Romaria
by Geno Thackara
Published: February 18, 2018
Read You Eat My Food, You Drink My Wine, You Steal My Girl! CD/LP/Track Review
You Eat My Food, You Drink My Wine, You Steal My Girl!
by Jerome Wilson
Published: February 18, 2018
Read Autres Paysages CD/LP/Track Review
Autres Paysages
by Glenn Astarita
Published: February 18, 2018
Read Elvesang CD/LP/Track Review
Elvesang
by John Kelman
Published: February 17, 2018
Read Necessary Arrangements CD/LP/Track Review
Necessary Arrangements
by C. Michael Bailey
Published: February 17, 2018
Read "Floating City" CD/LP/Track Review Floating City
by James Nadal
Published: March 9, 2017
Read "Arise" CD/LP/Track Review Arise
by Phil Barnes
Published: November 10, 2017
Read "Bandit 65" CD/LP/Track Review Bandit 65
by Geno Thackara
Published: March 13, 2017
Read "Kingdom" CD/LP/Track Review Kingdom
by Roger Farbey
Published: April 20, 2017
Read "Ara" CD/LP/Track Review Ara
by Don Phipps
Published: January 4, 2018
Read "Love Dance" CD/LP/Track Review Love Dance
by Karl Ackermann
Published: February 20, 2017