Spruce Grove, Alberta, Canada is not exactly a name synonymous with jazz music but this year you will do well to add Sandy Foster’s Spruce It Up to your list of "must haves" for your Christmas music collection. The album combines three original Foster compositions, "Spruce It Up," "Christmas Crossmass" and "Snow Wonder I Love You," with some old standbys such as "The First Noel," "Joy to the World," "Frosty the Snowman" and "I’ll Be Home for Christmas" set to new arrangements.
Matt Day sparkles on the keys with the jazzed up "Joy to the World" and Foster’s soprano vocals let loose for the first time on the CD giving us a foretaste of a live performance. "Some Children See Him" packs an island beat juxtaposed to flautist Kevin Andrews. You can hear the smile in the notes of "Frosty the Snowman" as the petite blonde chirps this delightful children’s tune. Once again, Day’s piano chops provide a great comp to Foster’s vocals.
Foster’s style led Kevin Leavins, program director for radio station Magic 99 to say, "Sandy Foster blows through your stereo speakers like a breath of fresh air. Her sprightly lyrics, blithe delivery and fun personality brighten every room she graces." Foster stays within her range and this makes for a relaxing and enjoyable experience for the listener. Too often at Christmas time, artists put choral numbers or songs on their Santa’s wish list that leave the listener cringing, wondering if they are going to make to the next note or forever lie maimed at the foot of the Christmas tree. You never get that feeling with Foster. She is easily in command of the vocals and in sync with the arrangements. "I’ll Be Home For Christmas" may rankle traditionalists, but if you like your music a little bit sultry and very emotive, then you are going to love Foster’s rendition.
My favorite tune on the record is "Snow Wonder I Love You," penned by Foster. She came up with some great charts and this is a song that should receive a lot of airplay if the DJs have their headsets on straight. We have a good love song set to jazz music that preserves the festive spirit. Although this is a solo and not a duet, I rank this one right up there with the 1949 Academy Award winning song "Baby It’s Cold Outside." The later being recorded in more modern times by duets such as James Taylor and Natalie Cole, Holly Cole and Ed Robertson of Barenaked Ladies and Ray Charles with Betty Carter.
Grab an eggnog, cuddle up with your honey and relax to this wonderful CD. When you get to the last two tracks turn off all but the Christmas tree lights turn to your sweetheart and say, "I love you."