Thursday, December 20, 2007
The best new Christmas jazz CD this year is Peter White’s collaboration with trumpeter/flugelhorn player Rick Braun and saxophonist/vocalist Mindi Abair. Their collection of enjoyable and breezy interpretations put many similar albums to shame.
Their heartfelt singing and playing on “The Christmas Song” is spot-on with Braun’s solo being as merry as is possible and still be sincere, and while “Santa Claus Is Coming To Town” may be the most pleasantly light-hearted version ever recorded.
White’s playing throughout is humbly understated yet ideal in each situation. His light grace-notes and fluent finger-pitch slides perfectly hug the melody’s beat on “Greensleeves,” and the ensuing trading of solos shows how deeply steeped each artist is in jazz’s tradition. As if to underscore this point they tastefully mix Miles Davis’ “All Blues” with “Jingle Bells” into a rocking “Jingle Jangle Blues.”
With three leaders of the magnitude and sales figures of these, one might expect a mad scramble for attention and supremacy, but not here. By sharing and deferring to each other they have crafted one of the most fun Christmas albums of the season. Best of all, this isn’t, like so many, a slap-dash seasonal album. The tunes are fully thought-out artistic statements you’ll be listening to year after year.