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A capella group Take 6 produces little more than an extended play CD with its holiday offering, The Most Wonderful Time of the Year. Ten songs clocking in at a slim 33 minutes make the disc a disappointment, save for that precious 33 minutes where the sextet does what it does best: sing. Opting for a majority of secular carols, the group concentrates largely on the popular Christmas canon.
Most outstanding among the 10 selections is the group's arrangement of Tchaikovsky's "Dance of the Sugarplum Fairy," from The Nutcracker Suite (1892). Duke Ellington and Billy Strayhorn dealt successfully with the same material in 1960, and Take 6 extends the music's evolution to the 21st Century. Hip, modern, yet very much in the nostalgia vernacular, Mark Kibble's arrangement takes full advantage of the group's impeccable tone and time as well as the individual talents of the singers to both scat and solo with vocalese. The disc could have only benefited by more music this fine.
Personnel: Alvin Chea: vocals; Cedric Dent: vocals; Joey Kibble: vocals; Mark Kibble: vocals; Claude V. McKnight III: vocals; David Thomas: vocals.
As a songwriter and vocalist, I love jazz for the experience of being in the center of intense creativity. It is the most potent form of music for keeping the artist and the audience in the 'now. Being in the moment is essential for humans, and we need help in learning how to do that. As a songwriter, I need the depth of musicality that jazz voicings can give my stories. My songs seem light and whimsical, but the message is not.
I met my main collaborator, Mark Fitzgibbon, at one of his gigs. I needed to do my first original album, and his playing was masterful, robust, and beautiful. At the time, I didn't realize how suited we were as a team. We're onto our 4rth album together.
My advice to new listeners is to listen to a really clear and simple version of a song so you can then hear what the musicians are doing and enjoy their creativity and musicality. Also, you have to see jazz live to appreciate it fully. You'll never feel it the same way listening to a CD or online. You need the vibration to go through your body to really get it!
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