103

Bill Cunliffe: That Time of Year

Dan McClenaghan By

Sign in to view read count
Bill Cunliffe: That Time of Year 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

More Articles

Read Crossing CD/LP/Track Review Crossing
by Geno Thackara
Published: June 25, 2017
Read Unit[e] CD/LP/Track Review Unit[e]
by Karl Ackermann
Published: June 25, 2017
Read Such A Sky CD/LP/Track Review Such A Sky
by Bruce Lindsay
Published: June 25, 2017
Read Buer: Book Of Angels Volume 31 CD/LP/Track Review Buer: Book Of Angels Volume 31
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: June 25, 2017
Read BACHanalia CD/LP/Track Review BACHanalia
by Jack Bowers
Published: June 24, 2017
Read Hallways CD/LP/Track Review Hallways
by Paul Rauch
Published: June 24, 2017
Read "Echoes Of Europe" CD/LP/Track Review Echoes Of Europe
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: January 26, 2017
Read "Peace and Love: A Tribute to Will Connell" CD/LP/Track Review Peace and Love: A Tribute to Will Connell
by Troy Dostert
Published: March 28, 2017
Read "Richie Cole Plays Ballads & Love Songs" CD/LP/Track Review Richie Cole Plays Ballads & Love Songs
by Jim Trageser
Published: November 25, 2016
Read "Move Upstairs" CD/LP/Track Review Move Upstairs
by James Nadal
Published: May 27, 2017
Read "Black Shuck" CD/LP/Track Review Black Shuck
by Karl Ackermann
Published: December 19, 2016
Read "The Dead Man" CD/LP/Track Review The Dead Man
by James Nadal
Published: April 4, 2017

Join the staff. Writers Wanted!

Develop a column, write album reviews, cover live shows, or conduct interviews.