In a season of upside-down Christmas trees and a topsy-turvy world, its a pleasure to come home to The David Leonhardt Jazz Groups Santas bag full of traditional and familiar musical presents delivered in this far from ordinary CD.
Sure, all the old chestnuts are here, including The Christmas Song and the title cut, Ill Be Home for Christmas, along with a bakers dozen of the other seasonal sound goodies which we invariably come home to this time every year.
Admittedly, such a holiday trip is at times tiring, and just like heading for grandmas house or the mall, maybe a bit routine; however, Leonhardt, Reed, and company liven up the journey this time around, and, in effect, spike the festivities with some zing to the songs and the singing.
Reeds vocals are no mere stocking stuffers. This is apparent from the first track where her deep throated resonance takes command, announcing that were in for some classy renderings to follow. The snow of Let it Snow melts a bit under the Latin warmth of Winter Wonderland and the instrumental blending of her background harmonizing in the exotic arrangement of We Three Kings and the swinging God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen. No one can resist her romantic and convincing salutation in Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas, done with such reassurance as to make every Ebenezer out there reciprocate in kind. Okay, is all one can say to her jazzy admonitions in Santa Claus is Coming to Town, If youll continue to scat along with him. Sleigh Ride, although beginning as something of a Little Drummer Boy march soon turns into another showcase for Reeds voice as smooth-gliding unison instrument. Such mellifluence holds true throughout, including a be-bopy Here Comes Santa Claus.
Leonhardts piano is everywhere it should be, often times where its unexpected, but always with an ear to exquisite ensemble playing. From the lilting renditions of O, Christmas Tree and It Came Upon a Midnight Clear; to the surprising cha, cha, chas of Jingle Bells; and the shinning textures of The Christmas Song and White Christmas; and all the obbligatos in between, Leonhardt compactly delivers here on the promises of his celebrated Winter Holiday Jazz Concert program. His share and share alike Christmas spirit is confirmed, too, in his duets with Larry McKenna, featured on Ill Be Home for Christmas, God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen (with sterling interplay between piano and sax), as well as Frosty the Snowman. Taro Okamotos solo and fours on White Christmas especially along with Matthew Parrishs steady bass lines uniformly enhance the ensemble.
HangIll Be Home for Christmason the tree, top or bottom, or just wrap it up. You can forget the bow though; its pretty enough by itself.