There is nothing unusual about the repertoire. After all this is a Christmas CD. What is special about this release aside from the professional performance you expect from Wllson is the variety of settings. There's the excitement of the Dizzy Gillespie Alumni All Star Big Band led by high note trumpeter Jon Faddis with solos by Faddis, Slide Hampton, James Moody and Jimmy Heath. They swing through inspired arrangements of "Let It Snow," "Silver Bells" and "God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen." Wilson and the New York Voices are properly spiritual on "Sweet Little Jesus Boy" and, along with pianist Monty Alexander, appropriately hip on "Carol Of The Bells."
The remaining small group selections present Wilson at her intimate best. They allow her working group to shine, and shine they do. (Pianist Liew Matthews is a gifted accompanist.) This is particularly true of Vince Guaraldi's "Christmas Time Is Here" and the joyful "Angels We Have Heard On High" which was meant to be swung. Damon Meader of New York Voices serves up warm sax tones on "What Are You Doing New Year's Eve." You'll also find Renee Rosnes, Claudio Roditi and Herbie Mann here and there. Miss Wilson has a host of talented friends!
There are two pieces on this CD that are meaningful to many at this time of year - one secular, Mel Tormé's "The Christmas Song," one religious, "O Holy Night." On both, producer / arranger Jay Ashby proves he can deliver string and woodwind arrangements that add color without getting in the singer's way.
Thank you, Nancy Wilson. This CD is great for the Christmas stocking, great for the Guild - and better than earmuffs for our frostbitten ears!