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This Week at CaféJazz.ca

December 24th, 2006
Edition #428 Previously Next

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Our Fifth Annual: A Café Jazz Christmas!
We're celebrating the best in smooth seasonal music with our annual presentation of A Café Jazz Christmas. Featured are great renditions of traditional holiday classics by Greg Vail, Steve Oliver, Planet 9, Kenny G, and Peter White. Also included are contemporary tracks from Chris Blizzard, Dave Koz, Michael Franks, The Pointer Sisters, and Rick Braun, while selections by Hall & Oates, Melissa Manchester, Bryan Lubeck, and Celtic Woman represent the absolute finest in a brand new batch of Yuletide offerings. I hope you'll enjoy these and the other pieces we've chosen and that this festive time will be a happy & healthy one for you and yours. Wishing you all the joys of the season, Merry Christmas and all the best for a smooth and jazzy '007!
In This Issue:

No Child Should ... - Hall and Oates
Do You Hear ... - Kenny G
My Christmas ... - M.Manchester
We Three Kings - Bryan Lubeck
Joy To The World - Walle Larsson
Jesu, Joy of ... - Terry Disley

More Holiday Favourites
Complete playlist: One Year Ago:

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Highlights Hour One
No Child Should Ever Cry On Christmas - Daryl Hall and John Oates:

The world's top-selling music duo celebrate the 2006 Yuletide with their first-ever Christmas Album, donating a portion of the proceeds to Toys for Tots, a charitable program run by the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve. Wishing to express a spirit of peace, tradition, and that of family and friends coming together, Hall and Oates have adapted some familiar songs and a few others not quite as well known. However, it's a John Oates original, which voices as moving an articulation of a Christmas wish for all children as we've ever heard!

CD: Home for Christmas (2006)
Label: U-Watch/DKE Records
Sites: Hall and Oates

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Do You Hear What I Hear? - Kenny G:
Wishes is the third in a series of four Holiday Albums from one of the most successful instrumental recording artists of all time, the other releases being 1994's Miracles, 99's Faith and 05's Greatest Holiday Classics. Although the latter was a compilation of highlights from Kenny G's previous seasonal cd's, for some reason that escapes us, the track Do You Hear What I Hear?, which represents one of the G-Man's finest performances, is an unfortunate omission. The seasonal standard was written by Noel Regney, born in Strasbourg, France, and drafted into the Nazi army despite being French, with Gloria Shayne, who was his then wife. Penned in 1962, Regney wrote the lyrics as a plaintive plea for peace during the time of the Cuban missile crisis; Shayne composed the music, which was just the reverse of their usual writing procedure. Reportedly, the finished version moved its creators to the extent that at first they could not sing it.

In an ironic twist, Do You Hear What I Hear? was originally recorded on November 22, 1963, the date of John Kennedy's assassination, by Bing Crosby, and was released about a week and a half later. Crosby's version went on to sell more than a million copies but the track became widely recorded, Bob Goulet's powerful version remained Regney's personal favourite. Few Christmas carols better capture the essence of the season than this modern day classic. Meanwhile, in what speaks to the remarkable strength of the accompanying melody, we've included three very different interpretations on this edition!

CD: Wishes (2002)
Label: Arista
Site: Kenny G
My Christmas Song For You - Melissa Manchester:
Melissa Manchester gives one of the brightest performances for this holiday season on an original piece! In the 70s, Manchester emerged as a singer/writer with hits like Midnight Blue and Don't Cry Out Loud, after having taken a song-writing course from Paul Simon and singing back up for Bette Midler and Barry Manilow. In 1980, she became the first vocalist with two Oscar nominated movie themes, while two years later she won a Grammy for You Should Hear How She Talks About You. However, as sales declined, the corporate mentality of the record business stifled her creativity, with much of Manchester's original work lying neglected. A couple of years back, Ms Manchester made a welcome return to the form that had characterized her earlier career, that approach has continued with the issue of My Christmas Song For You, a selection for which Toronto actor/vocalist James Collins co-wrote both the melody and lyrics. Manchester recorded her vocals in L.A. and then shipped them to Toronto, where Rob DeBoer and Tony Grace (aka Four80East) recorded and produced the rest of the record. Unfortunately, we have but this single track, but hopefully, an entire album of similar material is being considered, as it wonderfully fills a void in today's seasonal music!

CD: Platinum Christmas III (2006)
Label: Sony/BMG
Sites: Melissa Manchester

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Highlights Hour Two
We Three Kings - Bryan Lubeck:
Early in his career, Bryan Lubeck performed with comedian Red Skelton, while more recently he's played thruout the mid-west, opening for artists such as Richard Elliot and Craig Chaquico. A couple of years ago, the Chicago-based guitarist released Acoustic Vineyard, a debut presenting a blend of Latin and pop flavours, which earned him the nickname "smooth jazz operator". Although a new offing is the works for 2007, earlier this year Lubeck connected with fellow guitarists Johannes Linstead and Tomas Michaud, for We Three Strings, an album to which each musician contributed four selections. From that effort we have Lubeck's wonderful version of the seasonal standard We Three Kings.

It was clergyman, author, and illustrator, Reverend John Henry Hopkins Jr., who composed both the lyrics and music to the famed carol in 1857 for its inclusion in the Christmas pageant presented by the General Theological Seminary in New York City. The piece has been recorded several hundreds times and to that total, we now add Bryan Lubeck's smooth and reverent interpretation of the holiday classic!

CD: We Three Strings (2006)
Label: EarthscapeMedia.com
Site: B.Lubeck ; J.Linstead ; T.Michaud
Joy To The World - Walle Larsson:
Saxman Walle Larsson has long been active on the Winnipeg music scene, as a musician and in his alter ego form as a radio announcer. For many years Larsson hosted the very popular Lights Out radio program and he can currently be heard on Smooth Jazz 99.1 Cool FM here in Winnipeg. Larsson's professional career has taken him from Montreal to Japan and beginning with his 1990 debut, he's released four albums with another presently in the works. However, to quote Larsson, "Music is more than entertainment. It's a gift from God. It can soothe our weary souls, refresh us when we're tired, and give us hope amidst life's challenges." One of the best-known and best-loved Christmas carols, the message of joy and love replacing sin and sorrow conveyed by Joy to the World was based on scripture and written in 1719 by Isaac Watts. The music, added in about 1836, was adapted and arranged by Lowell Mason and is believed to have originated from part of Handel's Messiah. Now Larsson's philosophy, which has stood him in good stead over the years, finds a perfect mesh with the spirit of Christmas and his inspired take on this perennial favourite!

CD: A Breath of Christmas (1999)
Label: Larsson Productions
Site: Walle Larsson
Jesu, Joy Of Man's Desiring - Terry Disley Experience:
Although perhaps best known for his long association with Acoustic Alchemy, a connection that was renewed for an '06 tour, Terry Disley is a highly versatile & accomplished artist. He trained in jazz, composition, harmony and arranging, has appeared as a featured soloist with London's Metropolitan Orchestra, and is highly acclaimed as a jazz pianist having played London's prestigious Ronnie Scott's club on numerous occasions. Since 1997, Disley has resided in San Francisco, where he's forged a career as a lead performer with his '04 solo debut Experience, charting as the #4 release on our own in house list of most played albums for the year. Most certainly, Terry seems poised to meet or beat that accomplishment with his forthcoming Across The Pond, slated for release early in 2007. I've been fortunate to have had a copy in my possession for the past few weeks and I must admit, I'm just itching to play it! But, I digress.

Also recorded in 2004 and released a bit later that same year was Experience Christmas, a project for which Disley drew upon his vast repertoire of musical experiences. From that release, Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring is one selection that is especially rewarding. The piece is the final movement from Herz und Mund und Tat und Leben, a twenty or so minute cantata written as a full, traditional Church hymn. Although it's history can be traced to the works of Johann Sebastian Bach and 1723 when it was first performed during his time in Leipzig, Germany, Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring, just as well seems it could have purposely been written today for Disley himself!

CD: Experience Christmas (2004)
Label: Disleyworld Music
Sites: Terry Disley

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After Hours ~ Exclusive to our Web Site:
Ho Ho Ho! Thanks for joining me for A Café Jazz Christmas, After Hours style; and as has become our tradition, we're presenting a full hour of great uninterrupted seasonal music with no annoying chatter from me whatsoever. So how will you be able to identify all the fabulous selections? That's not a problem. Just click on the paw for a complete list of artists, titles, and albums!

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