The Yellowjackets celebrate the holiday season with their first complete recording of Christmas music. This is the easiest review I’ve ever had to write. If you like the Yellowjackets, or if you like the sounds of the season, buying Peace Round is a no-brainer.
Russell Ferrante notes that there are some challenges in recording a holiday collection, including making “familiar Christmas songs personal but at the same time respect their original intent and the spirit of the season.” Even before reading the press release, that’s the impression I got from listening to this CD. Yellowjackets don’t stray too far from the familiarity of songs like “Little Drummer Boy, “God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen,” and “Deck the Halls” yet still jazz them enough to make them unique and interesting. The ten song collection also includes favorites like “Winter Wonderland,” “Silent Night,” “The First Noel,” and “O Little Town of Bethlehem.” The group really packs the emotion into “In a Silent Night” and “Peace Round.” The latter is a simple eight measure round that “seemed to be the perfect metaphor for the season.” Ferrante elaborates on that in the CD’s liner notes. It is a somber tune that serves as a perfect soundtrack to the Holy Night.
Of particular note is the Yellowjackets’ playing. The band has never sounded better than on this effort. It may be due to the fact that most performances are just the first or second takes with little or no overdubbing. It may also be that the band has been so busy lately and have really bonded as musicians and friends. Whatever the case may be, they have released a warm and inviting recording.