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This Week at CaféJazz.ca

December 20th, 2003
Edition #310 Previously

Special Presentation - A Café Jazz Christmas
'Tis the season... With the big day only a few days away, it's time again for our annual Christmas special. True to form we've chosen music that is consistent with the style and mood of the show. As well, we have and continue to be most drawn to those artists that take a fresh approach to their craft. After all, some Christmas standards have been recorded hundreds of times, so for any version of such a selection "to make the grade" it must have some quality that sets it apart from the rest. I also believe in the therapeutic property of music, and as such this too becomes an important factor in selecting music for this show. So with all these things in mind. it's time to put a log on the fire and gather together with your loved ones as we celebrate peace on earth and goodwill towards men with A Café Jazz Christmas. It's our way of wishing you all the joys of the season and the best of everything in the New Year ahead. Merry Christmas!

Highlights Hour One
Holiday - Russ Freeman:

This seasonal record was put out by Russ Freeman leader of The Rippingtons back in 1995, just before it became fashionable to do so. Of the thirteen tracks, eleven are fresh takes on traditional favourites with a couple of originals from Freeman that nicely fit the holiday flavour of the cd. On the whole, this is one of the best examples of an album that combines creativity with yuletide classics. It continues to be a source of great listening and from it we have the title track.

CD: Holiday
Label: GRP

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Away in the Manger - Plan 9:
Individually, this ensemble of talented musicians has contributed to some of the biggest hits of the past three decades. For example, saxman Charlie DeChant played with Hall & Oates for close to 30 years and drummer Charlie Morgan worked with Elton John for 13 years. The band consists of 8 members in all. Each has established a similarly impressive set of credentials. Together as Plan 9 they embrace a wide variety of styles from groove and Latin rhythms to contemporary jazz. With the release of The 9 Days Of Christmas in 2002, the group's motivation was and I quote, "not to trivialize the standards we chose to cover, but rather to rediscover the joyful meaning of these songs". And in this respect they deliver.

CD: The 9 Days of Christmas
Label: Plan9 Partners
Site: Plan 9

Joy to the World - Greg Vail:
Whether he's playing a passionate ballad or dazzling us with a charged performance, Vail remains one of contemporary music's most dynamic performers. A man of deep personal conviction, Greg brings all these elements to a wonderfully joyful rendering of the holiday classic. Enjoy!

CD: Christmas The Hymns
Label: Greg Vail Music
Site: Greg Vail

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Highlights Hour Two

Do You Hear What I Hear? - Chris Camozzi:
Camozzi serves up a moving version of this holiday favourite and one that may very well be considered as the definitive instrumental interpretation. As always, Chris's style & tone are quite simply superb as he "sings the lyrics" of the song through his ultra fluid playing.

Although the release that this track is taken from may not be well known, this 2001 album represents a superior compilation of contemporary treatments of Christmas classics. Many of the selections exhibit a fascianting blend of "hip meets holly". It's quite simply a terrific cd and from it we've chosen one of the finest selections.

CD: Groovin' Jazz Christmas
Label: Gold Circle Records

Island Christmas - Michael Franks:
The "poet-laureate" of smooth jazz is back at it after an absence of four years. In the midst of several projects, Franks has for the past two years been intent on completing work on this album of original holiday music. Sometimes playful, always inventive and frequently brilliant, Franks' true genius comes sparkling through on the track that we've selected. With the help of Veronica Nunn, Franks eloquently engages us in an island sojourn that is nothing short of pure musical bliss!

CD: Watching the Snow
Label: Sleeping Gypsy Music
Site: Michael Franks

Joy to the World - Chris Blizzard:
Get set for a voice like crushed velour, we give you Chris Blizzard. Blizzard's musical roots were nurtured in the church choir where he started singing at the age of four. He only recently chose to pursue a career as an entertainer but even so his style and technique are masterful. As winner of BET’s International Jazz Discovery Contest, Chris's talent speaks for itself. From one of the best seasonal albums of the year, we've selected the opening track, a stirring example of what can happen when smooth meets gospel, and a selection that provides a wonderful climax to a great show.

CD: It's Christmas Time Again
Label: Rising Storm Productions
Site: Chris Blizzard

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