Style: Christmas Jazz
Michael Wyatt, Stewart Cox, Michael Spirko, Tom Fox, Vance Thompson - trumpets.
Tom Lundberg, Don Hough, Chris MacTavish, Brad McDougall - trombones.
Sandra MacMorran - tuba.
Bill Swann - piano; Dan Trudell - Hammond B-3 organ; Rusty Holloway - bass; Keith Brown - drums; Bob Adamcik - aux. percussion.
Jill Andrews - vocals (4);
Community Evangelistic Presbyterian Church Choir - John Johnson, Director.
Kellie Jolie - additional vocals.
Arrangements and Conducting: Vance Thompson.
Assistant Conductor: Alan Wyatt.
"Christmas Time is Here" steals awake like a serene morning dawn on the wings of Ralph Blane/Hugh Martin's (Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas), streaming gracefully out on the entrancing tone of Greg Tardy's tenor saxophone. And what better than Jule Styne/Sammy Cahn's (Let It Snow) to draw you deeper into the spirit of the season on Bill Swann's beckoning, sultry piano chords; meanwhile trombonists Don Hough and Tom Lundberg add a warmth to the wide open sound of the brass section, which Bill "Splanky" Swann diffuses with a witty reprise of the understated, ring-tone piano signature of 'The Kid From Red Bank.'
|The Knoxville Jazz Orchestra|
A rare, cherished, anticipated seasonal libation is offered in perfectly suited, crystal beauty from vocalist Jill Andrews (O Little Town of Bethlehem: Traditional). Van Thompson's arrangement is sensitive and masterful, as is his flugel horn solo, throughout the fetching, subtle contrast he paints in juxtaposing his lilting, samba flavored interval against Andrews' seductive, sustaining voice that renewed the reverence and somber prayer-like adjuration laid bare in the verse.
The organ, an instrument that has dominated the 'sound of church,' and has maintained its vaunted residency almost without challenge over time, unsurprisingly plays a conspicuous role in the 'Jazz Christmas Theater' of these Knoxville Jazz Players. And it is Don Trudell's Hammond B-3 that creates riveting, nontraditional grooves as he leans into (Go Tell It On The Mountain: Traditional)- don't let that funereal, pious, church-inspired intro fool you- he coats this musical treat with enough indigo to plaster a blue horizon end-to-end; William Boyd's tenor sax, and Keith Brown's 'rhythm-a-thing' drumming then move in to pin your ears back with the precision of a nail gun . Showing a mischievious inclination for unbridled swing, Trudell and the B-3 proceed to attack Noel Regney/Gloria Shayne Baker's (Do You Hear What I Hear) and (A Not-So Silent Night: Traditional) with a menacing vibrancy, and compelling rhythmic urgency that would have elicited spirited "high-fives" from James Oscar Smith.
Trudell's infectious B-3 by now had managed to infect all sections of the band like a tenacious Summer virus, and what they did to Pyotr Tchaikovsky's noble (Russian Dance) fit (tongue in Cheek), Ella Fitzgerald's immortal description of her inimitable version of "Mack The Knife": Berlin 1960 "...Bobby Darin made a 'record'...now we're making a 'wreck'..." But Ella swung in classic style then, as do the Knoxville jazz Orchestra and Tchaikovsky now; with an intensity and power not heard since the William "Count" Basie Orchestra's atomic version of "Jumpin' At The Woodside."
Christmas has a way of bestowing indescribable, sublime, divine moments to be treasured, and added to its experience as enduring themes for nostalgia. The inclusion of Vince Guaraldi's pensive, vulnerable title track (Christmas Time is Here), in this sense, seems to embody the collective spirit and character of the band within the simplicity and relentless subtlety of Bill Swann's piano, which by its mood, is transformed into a gentle approach to the threshold of the album's climax and finale, where Gospel and the Spiritual join in stirring choral jubilation (Children Go Where I Send Thee: Traditional), inspired by Chris Potter's quartet arrangement from "Traveling Mercies." It is begun by the choir from Church Street United Methodist in Knoxville in "high church" (Vance Thompson) style under the direction of Tim Ward, and the arrangement is closed "...in a Gospel style" (Vance Thompson) with a choral section from the Community Evangelistic Presbyterian Church, under the direction of John Jackson.
The Knoxville Jazz Orchestra: "Christmas Time is Here" is a performance of jazz music that can be enjoyed during any season. Since it is a collection of Christmas songs, carols and traditional music, it makes a perfect gift for any music lover. The packaging and graphic design are sensational, thanks to Thomas Heflin - Graphic Designer; Mischa Goldman - Session Photographer; Eric Smith - Concert Photos.
The person intent on buying "Christmas Time is Here" for themselves should buy two copies. One will be completely worn out over "The Twelve Days of Christmas."
Track Listing: Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas; Let It Snow; Deck The Halls; O Little Town Of Bethlehem; Go Tell It On The Mountain; I'll Be Home For Christmas; Do You Hear What I Hear; Russian Dance; Jingle Bells; A Not-So Silent Night; Christmas Time Is Here; Children Go Where I Send Thee.
Produced by: Vance Thompson.
Recorded and Edited by Mischa Goldman at Weird Monkey Studios, Knoxville, Tennessee.
Production Assistants: Ben Ryerkerk and Chris Jerger.
Mixing Engineer: Matt Coleman.
Mix Supervisor: Bob Katz.
Mixed at Digital Domain Studio B, Orlando, Florida.
Mastered by Bob Katz at Digital Domain, Orlando, Florida.
This CD is dedicated to the memory of Bill Scarlett.