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It's that time of the year: time to enjoy our favorite Christmas songs and other traditional holiday songs that have left their imprint. Jane Monheit brings us these and much more with her holiday album, also including a few surprises along with the usual fare.
Her warm voice gives the album a cozy feeling. "Moonlight in Vermont," "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas," and Donny Hathaway's "This Christmas" provide the kind of soulful emotions that linger. Up-tempo romps like "Sleigh Ride" and "Santa Claus is Coming to Town" rock with an exciting jazzscape meant to last. The latter proves her best; she delivers with convincing authority and shares the platform with her regular working quartet plus guest horns. Monheit puts her all into the song and interprets it with heartfelt clarity.
Her duo with guitar on "I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day" moves with a spiritual quality befitting the true essence of the season. "My Grown-up Christmas List" closes the official program with a lovely prayer for world peace. On the bonus track "What Are You Doing New Year's Eve," Monheit echoes her wishes for a fruitful holiday season and wraps up the session on a positive note.
Track Listing: This Christmas; Merry Christmas Darling; The Man with the Bag; Moonlight in Vermont; Sleigh Ride; Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas; I Love the Winter Weather/I've Got My Love to Keep Me Warm; The Christmas Waltz; I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day; Santa Claus is Coming to Town; My Grown-up Christmas List.
Personnel: Jane Monheit: vocals; Michael Kanan: piano, keyboards; Miles Okazaki: guitar; Orlando Le Fleming: bass; Rick Montalbano: drums; Lew Soloff: trumpet; Andy Snitzer: tenor saxophone; strings conducted and arranged by Rob Mounsey.
I love jazz because it mixes intellect and emotion in a very spontaneous way.
I was first exposed to jazz by liberating a Coltrane and a Pharoah Sanders record from a friend in NYC and listening to them over and over until I got it.
My advice to new listeners is you have to take the time to listen to some jazz tunes a number of times until it starts to make sense.