June 17, 2024

Making Spirits Brightmaking spirits bright
A Smooth Jazz Christmas
(Verve – 2001)
by Ray Redmond

Verve’s addition to this year’s Xmas music crush is also one of the best of the bunch. A mellow assortment of holiday grooves produced by compilation master Lee Ritenour, the CD features a stellar cast of players including Al Jarreau, Joyce Cooling, Will Downing, Richard Elliot, Jeff Lorber, Gerald Albright, Marc Antoine, Diana Krall, David Benoit, Joe Sample, Dave Grusin and Jeff Golub.

Whew…. The sheer mass of talent present here ensures that this will be one this year’s top christmas CD’s. The diversity of artist styles comes together well, but there is also no doubt that this is a Lee Ritenour production. The Brazilian-tinged “Silent Night” featuring singer Al Jarreau was definitely cut around the same time as Ritenour’s ‘Twist of Jobim’ material, but’s that not necessarily a bad thing.

Richard Elliot and Jeff Lorber team up on a pretty funky “God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen” and Gerald Albright turns in a lively rendition of “This Christmas” that also has a strong Ritenour flavor to it. Mention must also be made of Joe Sample’s sweet solo piano rendition of “I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus”. All in all this CD lives up to it’s billing as a Smooth Jazz Christmas. There are 10 copies of this CD in this month’s subscriber giveaway, courtesy of the folks at Verve Records!

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