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2001 Jazz Christmas CDs

Various Artists Various Artists
A Nancy Wilson Christmas (MCG Jazz/Telarc). Nancy Wilson’s first ever full-length Christmas album with proceeds benefiting the Pittsburg-based Manchester Craftman’s Guild. Joining Nancy on this benefit holiday album is the Nancy Wilson Trio, The New York Voices, and the Dizzy Gillespie Alumni All-Star Band and guests comprised of Herbie Mann, Monty Alexander, Claudio Roditi, Ali Ryerson, James Moody, Jimmie Heath, Jon Faddis, Earl Garner, Antonio Hart, Renee Rosnes, Slide Hampton and countless others. It’s a good mix of timeless Christmas standards and inspirational selections benefiting a noteworthy organization, adding to the already impressive attributes of the elegant Miss Wilson humanitarianism. - Rating: ***

Deck the Halls - Otis Read & Friends (North Star) A collection of familiar holiday fare. The friends part includes the Kenny G type, Bruce Abbott, who tends to over overshadow the other better musicians on this CD. When Otis Read, acoustic guitar, Marty Ballou-bass, and Marty Richards-drums, trio it, the effect is far more desirable. A bit folksy, slightly jazz tinged, next time 12 CDs for one penny now! - Rating: *

A Smooth Jazz Christmas by Dave Koz and Friends (Capitol). Koz and his pals, David Benoit, Rick Braun, Brenda Russel and Peter White capture timeless Christmas classics and several Koz originals on this exceptional contemporary smooth jazz CD that captures the originality of Dave Koz & Friends Christmas Tour (1997) with Koz’s imaginative Overture, introducing each of his artist pals one by one. Original, creative and explosive, the experience is magical. This contemporary CD is sure to become a standard. - Rating: *****

Kirk Whalum - The Christmas Message (Warner Brothers). Kirk Whalum offers an inspirational message of hope and the real meaning of Christmas on this retelling of the Christmas story and the celebration of the King of Kings. The album was co-produced by Whalum and John Stoddart, lending his artistry on keyboard and vocals on his own composition, Love From A Star. John first collaborated with Kirk on his Grammy-nominated, Hymns: In The Garden [2000]. Said Kirk about The Christmas Message, "This is very much a Christian take on Christmas. We only did songs that celebrate the birth of Christ. With that as our foundation, on the traditional songs I tended toward personal favorites songs I’ve known, and loved, and sung all my life." Visit for more information. - Rating: ***

MAXJAZZ Holiday (MAXJAZZ) A truly superb compilation of vocal jazz with two selections each by Mary Stallings, René Marie, Carla Cook, Philip Manuel, Bruce Barth, Laverne Butler, and Christine Hitt. Excellence can be found on very single track! All this vocal talent with the exceptional backing of Mulgrew Miller-piano, Bruce Barth-piano, Michael Pellera-piano, Ugonna Okegwo-bass, Edward "Bill" Huntington-bass, Adonis Rose-drums, Gerald Cleaver-drums, and Montez Coleman-drums covering the various tracks. MAXJAZZ has outdone themselves! Founded in 1997 by Richard McDonnell, MAXJAZZ hosts a fine array of stellar performers and state-of-the-art sound quality. Check out their website at - Rating: ****

Let it Snow/Christmas with Rosemary Clooney (North Star/Concord Compilation- Vintage Masters Series). Arranged for full orchestra, a mature Clooney sings eleven timeless holiday favorites that are sure to please Rosemary Clooney fans. Visit their website at - Rating: **

Benita Hill Winter, Fire and Snow, A Christmas Collection. Jazzy, torchy, bluesy and swinging, Benita Hill delivers the freshest vocals of the holiday season. An "old time" Christmas feeling, Benita offers a little something for every listener a little 50s-tinge on Christmas is a Feeling, a torchy jazz romp with Santa Baby, real jazz swing with Santa Claus is Coming to Town holiday tradition with The Christmas Song romance with Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas and inspiration on What Will You Give Jesus for Christmas with featured guest Kirk Whalum. Joining Benita on this CD is Kevin Madill-piano, Jim Ferguson-bass and Bob Mater-drums. A fine holiday CD for the whole family, and a testimony to Benita’s courage and faith after overcoming cancer. For more information on Benita Hill, visit her website - Rating: ****

Making Spirits Bright A Smooth Jazz Christmas (GRP-Universal). Produced by Lee Ritenour and Bud Harner. You don’t have to be a smooth jazz fan to enjoy this CD. Selections played and arranged by Lee Ritenour feature Will Downing, Joyce Cooling, Gerald Albright, Al Jarreau, Marc Antoine and Jeff Golub. Joining GRPs smooth holiday tracks are David Benoit, Diana Krall, Joe Sample, Dave Grusin and Jeff Golub. Extremely well done CD. Visit GRP at - Rating: ***

Additional Info

  • Artist / Group Name: Various Artists
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