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Christmas Break Relaxing Jazz for the Holiiays
Artists: Various Artists
Label: Telarc
Time: 12 Tracks / 50:16
Released: November 2006

If you enjoy relaxing jazz music that sets the mood for seasonal reflection and perhaps stirs up happy memories then Christmas Break Relaxing Jazz for the Holiiays is a CD you will want to add to your collection. Released this year by Telarc it features the great music of critically acclaimed musicians including, Oscar Peterson, Mel Torme and Dave Brubeck. 

The CD features some great piano chops by Peterson (“White Christmas”) and John Colliani’s accompaniment to Torme’s wonderful vocals on “Christmastime Is Here.” Fans of Charles Schultz’s Charlie Brown animated films will be familiar with “Christmastime Is Here”, now considered a traditional tune. 

Ted Brancato created some great arrangements to compliment the beautifully voiced Jeanie Bryson as she coos “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas.” With pianist Kenny Barron leading the way, instrumentalists Ron Davies (drums) and bass player Ray Drummond create an ambience easy to mistake for a live performance despite the fact the song was recorded at a New York City studio in 1993.

I am partial to saxophones and therefore thoroughly enjoyed the outing by Gerry Mulligan (baritone sax) and Dave Brubeck (piano) on the spirited “Santa Claus Is Coming To Town,” Mulligan blows some splendid low tones to give a fuller body to the children’s favorite.

The George Shearing Quintet picks up the pace with a song I was introduced to for the first time “Donkey Carol.” Hmm seems to me in my childhood I remember something about a movie with a talking mule but never a donkey who sung Christmas carols (smile). 

The deep, rich vocals of Kevin Mahogany singing “The Christmas Song” will have many a lady wanting to roast chestnuts by an open fire with this man. His vocals are beautifully comped by the Ray Brown Trio (Brown on bass, Geoff Keezer on piano and drummer Gregory Hutchison). Russell Malone also appears on guitar. The incomparable Elaine Martone has her fingerprints all over the production side of this song and is joined in the producers chair by Ray Brown.

Familiar carols such as “Away in a Manager” and “Silent Night” are brought to us through the piano solos of George Shearing and Dave Brubeck respectively. One of the more beautiful pieces to adorn this CD is “Ave Maria” featuring the brilliant acoustic guitar work of Al Di Meola. 

The album draws to a close appropriately with "“Farewell” Jingle Bells" by Dave Brubeck.

By Joe Montague, exclusive rights reserved

Joe Montague is an internationally published journalist / photographer. His ministry is dedicated to the memory of his late son Kent David Montague who went to heaven at the age of 18. All copyright and distribution rights remain the property of Joe Montague. 


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