Natasha Miller’s first holiday release The Season avoids the major pitfall of utter sameness that usually plagues Christmas music by offering a unique blend of different jazz styles that normally would not accompany "Christmas Songs." Miller’s vocals are as pristine as newly fallen snow on Christmas morning and are perfectly highlighted--as a well decorated tree--with the wonderful arrangements and solo features on the recording. The recording itself was partially recorded at Yoshi’s of Oakland, CA on December 12th, 2005 and in the recording studio.
The recording opens with the Irving Berlin classic "White Christmas," with a New Orleans accentuated groove arrangement by Miller featuring trombonist Adam Theis and drummer Jeff Marrs. In fact it does snow occasionally for a White Christmas in the Crescent City, as it did Christmas Eve 2004. The Season next moves into a medley of songs of "Let It Snow," "Rudolph the Red-Nose Reindeer" and "Frosty the Snowman" with a swingin’ blues flare that features a brilliant piano laden arrangement by Josh Nelson. Nelson is also featured on the next tune "I’ll Be Home for Christmas" with a bluesy-gospel oriented piano solo masterfully played and executed.
"Little Drummer Boy," features Latin-Jazz guitarist Steve Erquiaga in a soulful and silky smooth rendition that will have you hummin’ Pa rum pum pum pum (ba bum). Saxophonist Rob Roth and bassist John Shifflett melt away the cold with some hot solo playing in "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas." While a sweet, swinging samba may not be the first rhythm to come to mind in conjunction with a song about Christmas, Miller’s rendition of "The Christmas Song" quickly dispels any doubts about such a twist and combination of flavors. Brazilian Cachaça mixes well with Chestnut Liqueur and Eggnog as a drink pairing with this song. Santa swings right in with style in "Santa Claus is Coming to Town." Sweetness and melody prevail in the Bobby Sharp tune "As the Years Come and Go."
Miller’s talent and range is exhibited in full upon singing "My Favorite Things," which shows her exceptional promise as a jazz singer. Rob Roth’s saxophone compliments Miller perfectly on this track, a task which is not easy to fulfill for a tune in which Coltrane was specifically known for playing. Beauty may be the only way to express Miller’s singing with Erquiaga’s arrangement and playing of "One Hand One Heart," that features a solo acoustic guitar introduction from "Somewhere". A final medley of song of "Amazing Grace," Silent Night" and "Twinkle Twinkle Little Star" was arranged by Josh Nelson and features Sheldon Brown on soprano saxophone.
"Twas the Night Before Christmas" is notable for the resounding theatrical performance by Miller’s father Martin and the improvised musical accompaniment by Josh Nelson on Piano and Tim Bulkley on drums. The only downside to this recording results when Christmas is over since the musical merits warrant year-long listening. Forget the rules and play it all year long!!
The Nightlife Sommelier’s Drink & Recording Pairing:
Recipe: Christmas Season Samba
2 oz Premium Brazilian Cachaça (KA SHA SA)Rum
1 ½ oz Marrone Chestnut Liqueur
5 oz Eggnog Mix
Garnish & Flavor to Taste with Cinnamon Stick, Nutmeg, and Allspice
Recommended Presentation: Serve in 8.5 oz Irish-Coffee Glass
For more drink reviews & recipes as well as information about The Nightlife Sommelier’s events, classes & services visit http://www.thenightlifesommelier.com