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This Week at CaféJazz.ca

December 11th, 2005
Edition #388 Previously Next

Special Presentation: A Café Jazz Christmas !
With Christmas Day only days away, we're arranging our musical stockings with the utmost care as we prepare a Café Jazz Christmas. Seasonal music is tricky at the best of times. Some traditional tracks are quite stuffy while others are just too light & fluffy. Hopefully the ones I've chosen are 'just right', selections that you wouldn't mind hearing any time of the year and ones which reflect a true sense of celebration! I sincerely hope that you'll enjoy our choices & mix.

But once we're done with this show we're not quite ready to take the tinsel off the tree as for the first time we present A Cafe Jazz Christmas in two parts. Please join us for Part 2 of our holiday special which is scheduled to air on our participating affiliates on Christmas Day itself!

In This Issue:

Christmas Time is Here - Fourplay
Baby, It's ... - Williams & Caldwell
Silent Night - Al Jarreau
Driving Home For ... - Chris Rea
Winter Wonderland - Hiroshima
Do You Hear ... - Rauder & Hobbs


More Holiday Favourites

Complete playlist: One Year Ago:

Highlights Hour One
Christmas Time Is Here - Fourplay:
We go to Snowbound, Fourplay's Christmas album released in 1999 for the Vince Guaraldi composition, Christmas Time Is Here. Guaraldi had been commissioned by Charles Schultz, to compose the music for the TV special "A Charlie Brown Christmas". This followed the overwhelming popularity of the "Linus and Lucy" theme that helped fuel the success of the Peanuts gang in 1964. In any event, the special, complete with a holiday soundtrack performed by Guaraldi & his trio, first aired on December 9th, 1965. Christmas Time Is Here, certainly provided one of the more touching moments. Perfectly conveying the original spirit of that selection, we have Fourplay's take on that endearing piece!

CD: Snowbound (1999)
Label: Warner Bros.
Site: Fourplay

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Baby, It's Cold Outside - Vanessa Williams & Bobby Caldwell:
Almost an instant classic, this selection was written by the noted songwriter Frank Loesser and first appeared in the film Neptune's Daughter released in 1949. The track was an Oscar-winning composition and was performed twice in the movie, once by Esther Williams and Ricardo Montalban and then by Red Skelton and Betty Garrett. In the years since, it's been recorded hundreds of times including versions by Dean Martin, Louis Armstrong & Velma Middleton, Diane Reeves & Lou Rawls, Elle Fitzgerald and many many more. However, one of our favourite treatments remains this effort from Vanessa Williams & Bobby Caldwell. It first appeared on Williams' Star Bright release in 1996 and then on Caldwell's Timeline - The Anthology Part 1 a couple of years later. It was also released as a single to radio just over a year ago. Regardless of which source you go to for this track, it's well worth the effort as it's perfect listening for the holidays!

CD: Star Bright (1996)
Label: Mercury
Sites: Vanessa Williams ; Bobby Caldwell
Silent Night - Al Jarreau & Lee Ritenour:
As the story goes, it was just a few days before Christmas in 1818 that Joseph Mohr, the pastor of a small church in Austria discovered the church organ was broken. This was viewed as highly catastrophic as it meant no music for Christmas Mass. That Christmas Eve, Mohr visited Franz Xaver Gruber, a friend who lived a nearby town, bringing with him a poem he had written a couple of years earlier. He hoped that Gruber who was the church choirmaster and organist, could set the poem to music. Within a matter of a few hours, Gruber composed the melody for "Stille Nacht", which was set for two voices with guitar & choral accompaniment, and helped Mohr perform it for the first time on December 25th, 1818. In the nearly 200 years since that time, the melody has been somewhat modified on a few occasions. It's been translated from its original German into hundreds of languages, it's been recorded literally thousands of times and it's become one of the most celebrated selections of all time. As such, it would seem only fitting to have two of the most celebrated artists in Smooth Jazz collaborate on the track.

Al Jarreau is the only vocalist in history to be presented with Grammy awards in three different categories and in 2001; he was awarded a star on Hollywood's Walk of Fame. Lee Ritenour for his part has received 17 Grammy nominations, he's been named #1 in numerous guitar polls, and he's recorded several gold albums. Combine the talents of these two outstanding performers and you have one of the finest interpretations of this most beloved Christmas Carol! Jarreau's styling preserves the mood of reverence while Ritenour incorporates a terrific Latin groove which brings this selection squarely into the 21st century!

CD: Making Spirits Bright (2001)
Label: GRP
Sites: Al Jarreau ; Lee Ritenour

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Highlights Hour Two

Driving Home for Christmas - Chris Rea:
Growing up Middlesbrough England the son of an Italian immigrant, Rea didn't pick up his first guitar until he was 19. For a time, he performed as a member of Beautiful Losers, a group that won a Melody Maker competition as "Best Newcomer of the Year". Unfortunately that proved to be their high water mark, and so in 1977 Rea set out as a solo artist. The following year he released "Fool (If You Think It's Over)" which was a hit in the UK but really didn't enjoy any chart action in the US until it was re-released some time later. Nevertheless, Rea went on to record 19 albums in all, selling in excess of 30 million units worldwide.

There are several "Best of" releases that chronicle Rea's career. However, we're returning to New Light Through Old Windows, the first of these. That album features many of the finest tracks from Rea's first ten years and as such it well captures the optimistic nature of Chris's early work. None of the selections demonstrates this sense of optimism any better than the track we've chosen for this holiday special. Driving Home for Christmas, which debuted on the record, not only reflects Rea's artistic maturity, but the emotive quality of his vocals underscore the fact that it's one of the most genuinely happy & most romantic seasonal selections ever recorded! And as a bit of a footnote, that's original artwork created by Rea that appears on this and a few other of his album covers!

CD: New Light Through Old Windows (1988)
Label: Atco
Site: Chris Rea

Winter Wonderland - Hiroshima:
Just when you thought you'd heard it all before, along comes Hiroshima with a fresh arrangement of this seasonal favourite. Winter Wonderland was composed in 1934 by Felix Bernard and Dick Smith and, although the selection was charted on separate occasions by Guy Lombardo & The Andrews Sisters, it was Perry Como who first recorded the piece in 1946 for his Christmas release. It almost immediately became identified with Christmas. In fact Christmas isn't mentioned at all in the lyrics; rather it's simply a song about falling in love with winter. Now the veteran group from LA provide us with a jazzy & spirited interpretation of this holiday classic!

5 CD: Spirit of the Season (2002/2004)
Label: Hiroshima Inc./ Heads Up
Site: Hiroshima

Do You Hear What I Hear? - Rauder & Hobbs:
When Bing Crosby first recorded this selection back in 1962, writers Noel Regney and Gloria Shayne probably never imagined this future classic done this way! Leave it to Kriztal Entertainment to give us something totally different for the holidays! The Florida based label specializes in presenting all the best in chill based jazz. They've released numerous compilations; among them three volumes of "The Reindeer Room". On this occasion, we're heading back to 2003 & A Christmas Chillout, the second in the series. From it we have the Rauter & Hobbs remake of a perennial favourite! The man behind the sound is producer Charles Afton; Rauter & Hobbs being only a pseudonym. Originally from the UK, Afton has produced and remixed a virtual who's who in dance music. Since relocating to South Beach near Miami, his work has appeared on a number of releases from Kriztal Entertainment. After hundreds of renditions, this may be the most exciting twist yet on a modern Christmas classic!

CD: The Reindeer Room Volume II (2003)
Label: Kriztal Entertainment
Site: Kriztal

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After Hours ~ Exclusive to our Web Site:
Ho Ho Ho! No need to ask if you've been naughty or nice, I know that you've been very nice! So as a special treat you're getting a full hour of great uninterrupted seasonal music with no annoying chatter from me whatsoever. So just click on the paw on our audio page for music and click on the paw here for a complete playlist.

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