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Pianist and composer Steve Barta has released several fine holiday-related discs. To date these include That Christmas Feeling, Noel, Christmas Around the World, and The Twelve Days of Christmas. His Christmas offerings, especially the latter and this new recording, have absorbed a Bossa base that was very much in presence in his fine jazz release Blue River.
Three Ships concentrates on the more secular holiday songs. "I Love The Winter Weather/I’ve Got Your Love To Keep Me Warm,’ "White Christmas," "It Looks Like December," "Sleigh Ride," and "Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer" all show up. Mr. Barta chooses a string orchestra to accompany himself and his trio, augmented by flautist and oboists, recalling his past collaborations with Herbie Mann. The sum of the total is a very user friendly, jazz-oriented holiday disc that will please most everyone.
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.