-Down Beat Magazine Editors Picks
By Bobby Reed
Most CD buyers nowadays don’t get very excited about a holiday music album that only contains the same old chestnuts they’ve heard year after year by dozens of various vocalists. For a Christmas disc to fly, it typically needs to have three ingredients: some gospel or spiritual material; some jocular, secular material; and finally, a few unexpected twists. Jazz vocalist Nicole Henry delivers the goods with her new disc, which was recorded in 2009 at the Cotton Club in Tokyo. Backed by the trio of Pete Wallace (piano), James McCoy (bass) and David Chiverton (drums), Henry offers a soaring version of “O Holy Night” that is highly dramatic without lapsing into histrionics. Prior to getting this CD, I thought “Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer” was a warhorse I never wanted to hear again, but Henry’s luscious timbre, carefully sculpted notes and clever, comedic asides have salvaged the tune for me. Henry and McCoy’s vocal duet on “Baby, It’s Cold Outside” sizzles with sensuality, including her particularly amusing delivery for this line of dialogue: “Ooh, what did you do to my hair?” The program is bookended with a couple of delightful twists: a supple, muscular rendition of “My Favorite Things” and a bouncy, boogie-woogie-tinted “I’d Rather Drink Muddy Water.” ’Tis the season for great music.
via: Down Beat Magazine http://www.downbeat.com/default.asp?sect=editorspicks201112#5