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JAZZREVIEW’S ANNUAL HOLIDAY CD REVIEW

Whether you are planning your annual Christmas party or just want some cool jazz to set the holiday mood when friends or family drop by, Jazz Review is here to guide you with some great holiday CD suggestions for your listening and gift-giving pleasure. The holidays have always been a time for folks to celebrate their blessings, and nothing creates that holiday feeling better than music. Warmest wishes to you and yours, for a happy holiday season

THE CHARLIE BYRD CHRISTMAS ALBUM, Concord Jazz, 1982, Catalog CCD-42004 Charlie Byrd has always had the ability to combine acoustical classical guitar techniques to jazz, so this CD featuring his impeccable solo guitar style is appropriate for all listeners. Eighteen tracks of your favorite holiday songs are a perfect background for that special dinner party when music should enhance, yet not overwhelm the festivities.

PLAYBOY’S LATIN JAZZ CHRISTMAS/A NOT SO SILENT NIGHT, Playboy Jazz, 2001, Catalog PBD-7501-2 Hot, hot, hot! Spice up your eggnog and throw another chili pepper on the fire, this CD is mucho callente! Playboy’s 2nd release of Christmas Latin Jazz includes tracks by Ed Calle, the Caribbean Jazz Project, Pete Escovedo, Poncho Sanchez, Arturo Sandoval, Dave Samuels, Sheila E and David Valentin. Familiar tunes by some of the best players in Latin Jazz is dynamite and will surely stir you to get your hips moving and blood circulating.

CHRISTMAS WITH THE RAT PACK, Capitol Records, 2002, Catalog 72435-42210-2-6 Ring-A-Ding Ding! The "Chairman of the Board" (a.k.a. Ol’ Blue Eyes, Mr. Sinatra), Dean Martin and Sammy Davis, Jr. make jolly on this 21-track CD of holiday tunes. Sammy’s version of Jingle Bells and Dean’s beautiful recording of Peace On Earth/Silent Night (originally written for the Disney animated classic Lady and the Tramp are among the selections. The album was never available in retail record stores and the tunes have never been re-released since. The impossible-to-find Christmas Time All Over the World and The Christmas Song by Sammy only appeared on Sammy’s rare tribute album to Nat King Cole and have been impossible to find. Classic selections from Sinatra’s and Martin’s Christmas collections are always a pleasure, but rare duets and first-time releases of live performances of Marshmallow World and Auld Lang Syne are also included, making this CD a sure-fire bet for nostalgic collectors and Rat Pack lovers.

WINTER NIGHTS, AL DI MEOLA’S FIRST-EVER CHRISTMAS CD, Telarc Jazz, 1999, Catalog CD-83458 When the talented Al Di Meola toured Europe in 1992 with World Sinfonia, he met an extraordinary musician that played the bandura, a folk instrument well-known to the musician’s Ukrainian origin. Inviting Roman Hrynkiv to play with him at a show the next night in Luxembourg, it was immediately evident to Di Meola that the melodic harmony between guitar and bandura is something magical. The result is evident on this CD produced and arranged by Di Meola, containing 15 tracks of gorgeous material, six Di Meola originals. Herman Romero joins in lending additional percussion and acoustic guitar to the mix. Combined with the outstanding digital sound quality of Telarc, this holiday CD is a beautiful improvisation.

ELLA WISHES YOU A SWINGING CHRISTMAS, Verve Music Group, 2002, Catalog 440 065 086-2 What would the holidays be like without the outstanding, always-fresh, artistry of our beloved Ella Fitzgerald? This cherished reissue of Ella’s Swinging Christmas with the orchestra of Frank DeVol is in original LP sequence. But wait! This reissue also includes six additional selections not included on the original album of 12 tracks; three original 45-rpm issues, one with Russ Garcia’s Orchestra in Hollywood from 1959 and a bonus of two tracks, previously unissued, that will surprise and delight you. What could be better? Forever young, Ella’s legacy continues to delight a new generation of jazz listeners. This holiday CD, dedicated to the memory of Ray Brown, Sr., is a classic must have for your holiday collection.

DAVE KOZ & FRIENDS/A SMOOTH JAZZ CHRISTMAS, Capitol Records, 2001, Catalog CDP 7243 5 33837 2 5 Dave Koz is joined by a select smooth jazz dream team of artists, featuring David Benoit, Brenda Russell, Peter White, Rick Braun, Kenny Loggins, and Paul Jackson, Jr. to name a few, in delivering this warm and spirited holiday CD that was apparently as much fun to make as it is to listen to. The project started on a whim during a phone call Koz had 6 years ago with David Benoit. Koz claims it turned out to be one of the single most enjoyable musical experiences of his life-"spending every winter on the road with my pals and, now, recording this CD." Fourteen tracks of easy-to-like selections and a spirit of generosity, since a portion of proceeds from this CD are being donated to the Starlight Children’s Foundation, an international non-profit organization dedicated to improving the quality of life for seriously ill children and their families.

BIG BAND CHRISTMAS SWING with THE CHRIS MCDONALD ORCHESTRA, Green Hill Instrumental Classics, Green Hill Productions, a division of Spring Hill Music Group, Catalog GHD5120 Chris McDonald and his Big Band, consisting of a 19-member cast of saxes, trumpets, fluglehorns, trombones, piano, vibes guitar, bass, drums and percussion, perform your favorite Christmas songs with a rich and jazzy fullness reminiscent of times past when you had a variety of wonderful full orchestra Christmas specials to watch on television. Sophisticated and full, it’s perfect for bringing back old memories and ushering in new.

CHRIS BOTTI DECEMBER, Columbia Records, Sony Music Entertainment 2002 The smooth and flawless trumpet of Chris Botti, along with some beautiful arrangements and accompaniment, is sure to become one of your favorite "December" albums. A surprise on track 5 Perfect Day, finds Chris in rare vocal form sans a young Chet Baker, what a treat! There’s a great Bossa rendition of Santa Claus is Coming to Town and a superb "Miles-like" rendition of O Little Town of Bethlehem. Chris swings you on Winter Wonderland, then quietly let’s you imagine you are viewing the Christmas Eve snowy landscape from your picture window as he pristinely plays Silent Night. The entire album is fan-frigging-tastic!

LARA & REYES NAVIDAD, Higher Octave Music, 2002 I couldn’t put it better than the liner notes when David Munoz, KQ102, ask you "to imagine taking a holiday vacation without leaving town while you picture yourself walking through the streets of Spain, shopping for decorations in Mexico, or swooshing down the slopes of New Mexico. It’s a holiday you won’t soon forget." The two guitars of Sergio Lara (a 1997 Pedro Maldonado Flamenco guitar and 1980 Gibson F-5L Mandolin) and Joe Reyes (1975 Manuel Lopez Bellido Flamenco guitar and 1956 Gibson SJ Acoustic guitar) gather with 18 holiday selections, including the popular Feliz Navidad, a beautiful jazz arrangement of Mel Torme’s The Christmas Song, as well as a gorgeous Spanish Flamenco What Child is This?. Uniquely original, from a great guitar duo.

A CONCORD JAZZ CHRISTMAS, VOLUMES 1 & 2, Concord Jazz, Catalogs CCD-4613 & CCD-4720 So you love to mix it up with some of the finest names in jazz? Then Concord Jazz has just what you need--a super selection of 17 holiday hits on each CD including notables Jack McDuff featuring John Hart, Susannah McCorkle, Maynard Ferguson & Big Bop Nouveau, Ali Ryerson, Marlena Shaw, Carol Sloan, Marian McPartland, Jimmy Bruno, Scott Hamilton, Eden Atwood, The Gerry Wiggins Trio, Jesse Davis featuring Allen Farnham, Nnenna Freelon, Howard Alden & Ken Peplowski, Dave McKenna, and the list goes on and on. A great melting pot of some of the best jazz artists playing every imaginable holiday song you’d ever want to hear.

JAZZ PIANO CHRISTMAS FEATURING BEEGIE ADAIR, Green Hill Instrumental Classics, Green Hill Productions, a division of Spring Hill Music Group 2001 Another excellent Green Hill CD featuring the impeccable piano genius of Beegie Adair with Roger Spencer on bass and Chris Brown, drums. One could hardly choose a better piano jazz holiday album, as Ms. Adair is truly a gifted pianist. Light and lyrical, Adair trips the keys fantastic while you decorate your Christmas cookies and trim the tree. A fine gift selection for that piano jazz fan would also be Adair’s 2002 boxed set saluting 100 years of great American composers, featuring 75 songs of Richard Rogers, Ellington, Hoagy Carmichael, Gershwin, Irving Berlin and Jerome Kern. Superb artistry.

ROSEMARY CLOONEY WHITE CHRISTMAS, Concord Records 1996, Catalog CCD-4719 Gone, but not forgotten, Rosemary Clooney is legendary during the holidays as well as the other eleven months during the year. Who can ever forget her performance in Paramount Pictures’ holiday classic, "White Christmas?" But not for this reason alone do we remember and cherish Clooney’s special gift and the ease with which she interprets a song, any song. She will always be part of Christmas and this delightful "glitter pak" CD is a listening and visual pleasure. The CD features Rosemary with the Peter Matz Orchestra and the Earl Brown Singers, with guest vocalists Nick Clooney and Michael Feinstein. If you didn’t add this traditional CD to your holiday collection in 1996, you should do so this year.

CHRISTMAS WITH THE GEORGE SHEARING QUINTET, Telarc 1998, Catalog No. CD83438 This 1998 holiday CD with the distinctive, unique sound of George Shearing is sure to please grandparents or mom and dad who treasure his trademark sound. Shearing has one of the longest, most productive recording careers in jazz history so it makes a perfect sense in select a Shearing CD for gift giving when your not sure what the old duffers will enjoy. All kidding aside, this is a nice holiday CD with many rare tracks including Shearing’s rare choices for the album such as Donkey Carol, Ding Dong! Merrily on High, Balulalow and Snowfall. Yet it’s interspersed with classics such as I’ll Be Home for Christmas, The Christmas Waltz, and Let it Snow, Let it Snow, Let it Snow! You’ll also be delighted to hear Shearing sing on track 15, It’s Christmas Time. Simply priceless, easy on the ears and classic Shearing!

KENNY G, WISHES, A HOLIDAY ALBUM, Arista Records 2002 This is Kenny G’s third holiday album release. This CD features some of the more serious traditional Christmas songs, such as O Holy Night, Hark the Herald Angels Sing, Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring, O Come All Ye Faithful, Do You Hear What I Here and

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