Sunday, December 8, 2013

Christmas - Let it Snow ....

Two top 2013 Christmas albums 
New York Voices: Let It Snow - Nnenna Freelon's  Christmas
Hans Koert

Each year you’d better have to face up to it …. The final weeks of the year, roughly between Christmas Eve and New Years morning, your cd player has been reserved for Christmas albums only ……    
During the final quarter of the year dozens of artists hope to get a piece of the pie releasing their ultimate Christmas albums – a period in which the record industry hopes to score commercial successes.  But how to separate the wheat from the chaff? Well, Keep (it) Swinging has found some great new jazz albums that will complete your holidays for Christmas 2013. 

New York Voices - Let It Snow ( FCR-0001)

The New York Voices released its long-awaited Christmas album, entitled Let it Snow a month ago. The  New York Voices is a vocal quartet featuring Kim Nazarian, Lauren Kinhan, Darmon Meader and Peter Eldridge. Darmon Meader tells, that this album has been long-waited, as its preparations started somewhere mid 2000s when the group was invited to tour with the Boston Pops for a full Christmas season. 

The New York Voices ( photo courtesy: Chris Carroll)

The numbers selected were part of that tour, but also during the Christmas seasons arrangements  of traditional and sacred holidays classics, as well as secular favorites have been added. It’s all on the album: O Little Town of Bethlehem, We Wish You a Merry Christmas, Holiday for Strings, Silent Night and, of course the title track Let it Snow. The vocal group is accompanied by a rhythm section, a big band and a studio orchestra featuring a horn- and string section.   

The New York Voices ( photo courtesy: Chris Carroll)

The reason that I selected this album is because I was surprised by the balance of the voices which reminded me to the music of Lambert, Hendricks & Ross - the good old days with bands like the Singer Unlimited and the Manhattan Transfers, a style of jazz singing which isn’t heard often now a days and fits wonderful into the atmosphere of this time of the year. 

Listen to a compilation of this great album, as sung by the New York Voices, which celebrated this year its 25th birthday.

The second album that got a place in this selection is Nnenna Freelon’s album Christmas.  Nnenna, whose name is rather unknown in this part of the world, is a featured vocalist for decades - a six-time Grammy nominee. Nnenna, who raised in a holiday tradition of church and family, made her dream came true ….. 
Nnennia Freelon ( promotional picture)

Although being a venerated jazz vocalist, she had never released a holiday album. Thanks to a small inheritance by her mother, who was a lover of Christmas and the help of her friend and colleague John Brown, her “debut” Christmas album was recorded …. At first both made a list of possible tracks, then they worked together to narrow them down ….. It felt like .. cooking a holiday meal, she explained this selection process: You assemble everything, start throwing things together, and as a dish starts to take shape, you taste and see what it needs. You might take something out or put a little more in, until finally you come up with a combination that feels right.    
The album “Christmas” released and produced by bass player and band leader John Brown has ten tracks, from a Swingle Jingle Bells up to a I’ll Be Home for Christmas, which turns this slow Bing Crosby standard into a joyful New Orleans style romp. In between well known holiday traditionals like Let it Snow, Christmas Time Is Here, Little Drummer Boy, O Little Town in Bethelehem, Baby, it’s Cold Outside and of course the classical Silent Night.

I love to share with you a fragment which shows the qualities of this great singer.  
Ten years ago she joined a concert by the WDR Big Band in Leverkussen (Germany), with the tune I Cried For You, in which she is supported by the great trumpet player John Marshall 

  Two great new Christmas jazz albums that could be a great present under your Christmas tree.  Get your copy.

  • Wie me mailt en zijn mening geeft over Keep (it) Swinging en een poging waagt om één van de drie meest bekeken Keep (it) Swinging blogs van 2013 te raden, dingt mee naar dit fraaie, net uitgebrachte Christmas album

Hans Koert
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Christmas time - holiday time ......  My cd-player is, during the two final weeks of December, restricted to the so-called holidays-repetoire of  jazzy traditional and sacred holidays classics, as well as secular favorites.

Dozens of new albums have been released and maybe you wonder how to see the wood for the trees ..... That's why Keep (it) Swinging selected this year two great albums for you ..... New York Voices: Let It Snow and Nnenna Freelon's Christmas
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1 comment:

  1. Hi Hans, thanks for the great review and plug. We appreciate it.
    Let it Snow is selling like hot cakes these days.
    Wishing you a happy holiday season.