Okay, by now most all of us have seen or heard this disc, and it's become one of the best sellers of the holiday season. So the question remains: should Diana Krall's new holiday CD become part of your collection, and specifically if you're a jazz fan? The short answer is, yes.
For starters, this disc swings. Heartily. This is what Krall does best: coast merrily (pun intended) over a sprightly groove on familiar tunes. And after her experiment with originals on last year's "Girl in the Other Room," she sounds right at home here.
The groove, by the way, comes mostly from the Clayton/Hamilton Jazz Orchestra, whose co-leader John Clayton has served as Krall's regular bassist for some time now. He's crafted solid by-the-book arrangements with just the right amount of punch to complement the singer's more laid-back style. Krall seems to be having no shortage of fun here, shifting easily from singing to scatting and back again, and letting herself work with and against the rhythms laid down by the band and drummer Jeff Hamilton. She hasn't sounded this relaxed since her Nat King Cole tribute "All for You," recorded early in her career. It's no surprise that Cole's signature "Christmas Song" also highlights this disc.
The tunes comprise the tried and true of the season, with only one true eye-opener. Krall closes the set with "Count Your Blessings Instead of Sheep," a tune made famous by Rosemary Clooney, one of Krall's obvious influences in terms of pop-influenced jazz singing. On this and two other pieces on the disc we're also treated to the sumptuous string arrangements of Johnny Mandel, providing contrast to the big band numbers.
So while Christmas Songs doesn't present us with any new revelation in the career of Diana Krall, it's a satisfying piece of work that fits in well with the season and is refreshing enough to return to for yuletides to come.