Christmas – Al Jarreau (2008)

December 11, 2008

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It took about 3 decades, but 7 time Grammy winner Al Jarreau has *finally* given us a holiday set of music, and it was worth the wait!

This has become the latest CD in my car and it has been played on repeat for about a week now.  Mr. Jarreau and a team of talented musicians have put something together that is destined to become a perennial classic.

Every December I always listen to the best “White Christmas” ever by the Drifters; the best Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” ever by the Temptations featuring Eddie Kendricks on lead;  the best “Silent Night” ever by the Temptations from their second Christmas Album; and now we have the best “Winter Wonderland” arrangement ever as sung by Al Jarreau and the best “The Christmas Song” ever as sung by Al Jarreau.

I have been singing the  ‘Winter Wonderland”  hook all day, every day for the past week: it is truly infectious! When ever  I can finally put that out of my head it ends up being replaced by the hook to “Hark The Herald Angels Sing” (LOL)

look-to-the-rainbowLike many, I came to know Al Jarreau when I first heard “Look to the Rainbow and “Take Five” from his 1977 Live Album “Look to the Rainbow.” Now Jarreau can add a second classic album to his musical legacy with “Christmas”.

Not only is Jarreau’s unique style (he calls them Jarreau-isms) married into this selection of traditional holiday tunes and hymns — but the arrangements are simply awesome. There is not a bad song in the bunch.  After reading the liner notes I find that the songs that tend to be my favorites are those that have been arranged by Larry Williams. This man is one fantastic musical arranger folks. But I repeat — every song is a gem.

Here is the track listing. Basically there is know way I could pick two or three favorites so I will give you the opener ,”Winter Wonderland,” and let you judge from that. Of course you will then know, after listening, that you need to make this purchase.

Track Listing:

1. Winter Wonderland.

2. Hark The Herald Angels Sing. An afro-carribbean arrangement that is tops!

3. White Christmas – simply superb.

4. Interlude By My Christmas Tree. Beautiful!

5. Carol Of The Bells

6. Oh Come All Ye Faithful

7. The Christmas Song. This version is my new favorite besting Nat King Cole’s IMHO.

8. I’ll Be Home For Christmas featuring Take 6 – vocals that give you chills.

9. Gloria In Excelsis

10. Christmas Time Is Here – a new and awesome twist on the classic. I will no longer be strictly thinking of Charlie Brown and the rest of the Peanuts gang when I hear this song.

11. Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas

12. Some Children See Him

13. The Little Christmas Tree. I love this song. I had never heard it before and was stunned to see that it was written by Mickey Rooney. It is, in essence, a love song to a Christmas Tree. Remarkably tender and touching.

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