Holiday Music Roundup Part 1: Vocalists

I began looking up the various jazz seasonal recordings when I first learned about the new Christmas recording from Bela Fleck & the Flecktones. I’ve gotten a good number and am breaking them into separate posts. Here are some of the singers who have new holiday recordings out this year.

Al Jarreau – Christmas. An all-new recording on Rhino. From the Rhino site: “Album highlights include Jarreau’s instantly classic takes on beloved tunes including “The Christmas Song,” “Winter Wonderland,” “White Christmas” and “Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas.” Cherished Christmas traditions further come alive with his inspired versions of “Come All Ye Faithful,” “Carol Of The Bells,” “Hark The Herald Angels Sing” and “Gloria In Excelsis,” a sacred song used in the Roman Catholic Mass.”
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Singer Erin Bode has a new Christmas-themed release out titled It’s called A Cold December Night. The only information on it so far comes from the great St. Louis Jazz Notes, which says it’s due in November.

Bob James & Hilary James – Christmas Eyes. I don’t know anything about this other than it’s Bob and his daughter, singer Hilary James, in a Christmas recording produced by Kevin DiSimone (Hilary’s hubby). From the track list, it looks like a mix of familiar carols and original songs.
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Harry Connick, Jr. has recorded a third holiday collection – What A Night! A Christmas Album
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I only know of one Tony Bennett holiday recording where he’s the headliner and that’s amazing considering his long career. A Swingin’ Christmas is new from Tony with Count Basie Big Band.
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Jazz Videos on MTV

MTV is playing videos again! Online, at least at their newly launched mtvmusic.com. I checked it out and – whoa – there are over 100 videos in the jazz category. I wasn’t even expecting a jazz category. There are a lot of Kenny G and Norah Jones videos but also a number of 80s Warner Bros. videos from the likes of Al Jarreau, Bob James, David Sanborn, Michael Franks, George Benson, Quincy Jones, and Miles Davis. Seeing some of these again is kind of a kick. I bet you’ll find some surprises too.

Here’s George Benson and Earl Klugh – Dreamin’:

Bela Fleck & the Flecktones Holiday Recording

Christmas music from Santa Bela Fleck and the Flecktones is coming on September 30. Jingle All the Way is the first collection of holiday music from the long-standing band. It features everything from banjo-harmonic arrangements of “Christmas Time Is Here” and “River,” to a Tuvan-inspired, worldbeat rendition of “What Child Is This / Dyngyldai.”

“We always imagined we would do a holiday album,” Fleck said in a statement. “When the Flecktones first got together, we worked out a Christmas medley; it was really fun. People loved it, and we continued to play it every year.”

Order Jingle All the Way now from Amazon.com

Jingle All the Way isn’t the first seasonal work from Bela Fleck. He previously recorded “White Christmas” with Bob James for the Warner Bros. Jazz Christmas PartyWarner Bros. Jazz Christmas Party CD years ago.

Bob James Goes OUT THERE

After God knows how many albums, Bob James still has a few surprises up his sleeve. You’ll hear it the second you put in his upcoming CD Morning, Noon & Night. That’s not skipping – that’s the awesome scratches of Rob Swift. Unfortunately, it’s the only track that features Rob. The rest of the CD features of a variety of music, from smooth jazz to acoustic sounds. However, I insist that Bob do a whole CD of music that sounds like “Street Smart”. The CD hits stores on September 24.

Review: Warner Bros. Jazz Christmas Party

Warner Bros. Jazz Christmas Party

Warner Bros. gathered its jazz and contemporary jazz rosters to put together the label’s first holiday collection. But, unlike other label holiday albums, Jazz Christmas Party, doesn’t just feature submitted tracks from its artists. WB artists collaborated together on several songs on this album. Bob James and Béla Fleck duet on “White Christmas. Michael Franks and Kirk Whalum work together on Franks’ “I Bought You A Plastic Star For Your Aluminum Tree.” The constant on the release is the keys of the label’s big three pianists – Bob James, Brad Mehldau, and Larry Goldings. The songs aren’t exactly Christmas standards. Al Jarreau, Boney James, Bob James, and Larry Goldings perform on Kenny Loggins and Bob James’s “Celebrate Me Home.” Whalum lays down his gospel sound on “A Cradle of Bethlehem.” New WB vocalist Gabriela Anders delivers a great debut on her original “Our First Christmas.” The musicianship on the album is top-notch, from the headliners to the rhythm provided by James Genus, Larry Grenadier, Jorge Rossy, and Billy Kilson.

Warner Bros. Jazz Christmas Party is a seasonal album that all jazz fans will enjoy.

t r a c k s
(note that several musicians play on several other tracks)

“Santa Claus Is Coming To Town” – Joshua Redman; “Celebrate Me Home” – Al Jarreau; “A Cradle In Bethlehem” – Kirk Whalum; “I Bought You A Plastic Star For Your Aluminum Tree” – Michael Franks; “Our First Christmas” – Gabriela Anders; “Silent Night” – Larry Goldings and Brad Mehldau; “Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas” – Boney James; “I’ll Be Home For Christmas” – Kevin Mahogany; “Pure Imagination” – Mark Turner; “Christmas Time Is Here” – Brad Mehldau Trio; “Personent Hodie (Sing Aloud This Day)” – Bob James Trio; “White Christmas” – Béla Fleck and Bob James