Thursday, December 18, 2014

Yule Struttin' - A Blue Note Christmas

As I'm sure most people know, Blue Note is Capitol's jazz-oriented label and here they jumped on the
Xmas compilation bandwagon - with hip results!

Opening with one of my faves, Bobby Watson & Horizon's "Vauncing Chimes", a swingin', improvisational take on "Jingle Bells" (that adds a few other holiday numbers, as well), you get the idea right away - instrumental takes on some of your faves given a boppin' beat. Stanley Jordan does some sweet guitar riffin' on "Silent Night" and then Lou Rawls comes in for a vocal version of "The Christmas Song". There's a piano-driven medley of "I'll Be Home For Christmas" and "Sleigh Ride" from Eliane Elias that takes jazzy liberties with the melodies, followed by Chet Baker's fast-paced swing in "Winter Wonderland". It slows down again for another piano-laced number, Benny Green's "A Merrier Christmas" and then Dianne Reeves gives us a sweet vocal version of the same. More impressive guitar work on John Hart's ballad-y "O Tannenbaum" and then Count Basie really swings his "Jingle Bells" in a fine, live big band arrangement. Alvin and the Chipmunk's hit "Chipmunk Christmas" is given a new, instrumental life by John Scofield and Joey Calderazzo gives up a quiet, piano-led "God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen" that does build into a rollickin' session. Dexter Gordon chimes in with "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas" while Benny Green does a quiet, atmospheric "Silent Night" before everything concludes with Rick Margitza's "Little Drummer Boy" that goes off into some wild, horn-deulin' territory.

A real quality comp here - more excellent Xmas cheer!