John D. from ARLINGTON, TX Reviewed on 11/30/2010...
Awesome! Relaxing. Fun.
Give Yourself a Merry Little Christmas ... drop this CD in t
J. Lund | SoCal, USA | 11/02/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Various Holiday-themed Diana Krall tracks have popped up over the years, but CHRISTMAS SONGS is her first full-length Christmas album. In recent years Diana has not rested on her laurels, musically-speaking. Some such as myself have thought highly of her later albums, while others missed her earlier forays into pop/jazz standards.
CHRISTMAS SONGS should appeal to those on both sides of the fence, and will likely reach out to many newcomers as well. The sense of effervescent, swinging fun that marked portions of her earlier albums is back on a number of tracks ("Santa Claus Is Coming To Town," "Jingle Bells," etc.). Meanwhile, those of us who feel she's emotively-deepened as a vocalist in the last few years will find ample evidence of that too, particularly on the ballads ("I'll Be Home For Christmas," "White Christmas," etc.). Diana's accompiament also tries something new (for her): there's a tasty, compatible big-band on many tracks (courtesy of the Clayton/Hamilton Jazz Orchestra). In addition, several ballads have string-dominated orchestrations (somewhat similar to those on THE LOOK OF LOVE).
Quite unusual for contemporary holiday albums is the lack of any attempts to write a new classic; there are no Krall-penned tunes here. Most of the songs are among the holiday season's most oft-heard classics, but Diana's voice brings a fresh touch to them. At times she effectively breaks out into scatting, and frequently tweaks the melodies to just the right extent as one would expect of a jazz singer. Of course, her piano moves into the foreground at times as well. Most if not all fans of Diana's late-1990s albums will be satisfied with this album from beginning to end, as will many who favor the recent discs. It's safe to say that CHRISTMAS SONGS will prove to stand the test of time and become a classic seasonal album."
Jazzy Christmas Songs
Thomas Magnum | NJ, USA | 11/01/2005
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Diana Krall's first full length Christmas collection is another typical posh and elegant recording from the great jazz vocalist. Backed by the marvelous Clayton-Hamilton Orchestra, Ms. Krall offers up twelve well-crafted, immaculately arranged and produced songs. The arrangements stick to the traditional but Ms. Krall's smoky vocals set the right mood for a romantic holiday party or dinner. Serve up the eggnog and let it snow."
Have yourself a Merry Jazzy Christmas with Diana Krall
Bachelier | Ile de France | 03/26/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Diana Krall can't win. Among jazz snobs she's criticized more for her cool blond looks than her musicianship, and now jazz ideologues deprecate her work because she released a Christmas album. But her stunning beauty aside, if you were blind and an honest critic you'd be charmed and intrigued by her distinctive time signatures and in love with her voice. Diana Krall's musicianship and vocal styling just gets better with each successive release, and this album is no exception.
As far as the diminution of her seriousness as a jazz artist because of releasing a Christmas album, here follows a partial list of jazz greats who have done the same thing: Nat Cole, Perry Como, Frank Sinatra, Mel Torme, Dinah Washington and Ella Fitzgerald. Those aren't good enough for you? Too "pop stylist" and not enough "jazz purist?" Okay, try on this list of jazz god-artists who also have released Christmas songs: Oscar Peterson, Ramsey Lewis, Louis Armstrong, Shirley Horn, Jimmy Smith, Bill Evans, and yes (jazz ultra-snobs begin eating ordure now) even John Coultrane ("Greensleeves").
And so Verve wisely got Krall to pick the most overdone of Christmas songs that have been covered to death by thousands of others and see what she could do. The answer is that this album is excellent, brilliant, harmless, and fun that only a Jazz Grinch couldn't love. Tommy LiPuma and Diana Krall's production is stunning, and John Clayton's arrangements and the Clayton/Hamilton orchestra's execution is flawless.
You'd think it would be hard to make "Jingle Bells" sound new, but Krall succeeds and makes a song I hate enjoyable. Her take on "I'll Be Home for Christmas" invokes memories more black and white than snow and evergreen, and with the length of her notes and excellent phrasing and sustain invokes the aching futility at the root of the song in a way not heard since World War II. Only one other artist tops Krall's excellent jazz version of "Santa Claus is Coming to Town," and that artist works in the genre of rock and his name is Bruce Springsteen.
Other selections are equally delightful, and the musicianship throughout is superb. This is an unapologetically excellent album for any jazz fan, and deserves heavy rotation at Christmas gatherings or just for yourself by the fire. If any of your Christmas guests is rude enough to says otherwise, keep a lump of coal handy and whip out Coultrane's "Greensleeves" for a pause to have them put a stocking in it, then follow it up with Krall's "Let it Snow" to keep the Christmas spirit in full 4/4 time."
Depending on what you're looking for, this might be a disapp
David A. Beamer | Clawson, MI United States | 12/08/2005
(3 out of 5 stars)
"First things first: Diana K's voice is what is featured here; her piano playing is practically non-existent. Instead, she is backed by the Clayton/Hamilton Jazz Orchestra. Longtime fans of Krall will recognize those two names as probably her favorite sidemen (John Clayton, bass, and Jeff Hamilton, drums). Her other sideman fixture, guitarist Anthony Wilson, is also in the band.
The spotlight, however, is focused on Krall's voice -- the band definitely plays backup. The "C/H Jazz Orch" is a great band, and can (and sometimes does) really swing, but on this CD, they aren't given much of a chance. The majority of the songs are Krall's trademark "sultry slow ballads", with a few fun exceptions. The biggest surprise is the inclusion of "Christmas Time is Here", which will make most listeners think of the Charlie Brown Christmas cartoon -- only here, it gets a proper grown-up rendition instead of the children's choir used in the show. That tune alone is almost worth the price of the CD.
I am a *huge* fan of Krall, but this CD just doesn't do it for me. I think the main reason is that her piano playing adds so much to her performances, and when it's missing, it leaves a big hole. Also, since she's singing for virtually the whole 44 minutes (including a touch of scat), the record has a "sameness" that doesn't happen in the rest of her recordings, where she, of course, not only takes several solo choruses on the piano, but is very liberal in handing out solos to her sidemen (esp. Wilson).
If you're looking for Diana singing all the Christmas standards with a lush big band (violins and all), then this will hit the spot. But as Krall would attest, she is first and foremost a jazz pianist, and her singing career was tacked on well after she was the "teenage jazz piano phenom". I personally think the record would have come off better in her typical milieu -- her at the piano, her three favorite sidemen, and a smattering of purely instrumental choruses of theses Christmas standards.
And if you're just a plain old Kralloholic, it's a must. Although I must say I am completely baffled by the cover art -- it looks like the photographer told her to gather up that voluminous dress to show off her (still great) legs, and then "lean back so that it looks like you're in pain and will fall off the chair any moment"."
A Torch Singer's Christmas
Peter S. Wadhams DPM | Redondo Beach, CA | 09/02/2006
(3 out of 5 stars)
"This is a pretty classic torch singer, with great pipes, singing Christmas songs. Put it on your CD with a few other Christmas albums you love, hit random and you'll never be disappointed when Krall's songs come up. When you just listen to the album by itself it becomes a little much..."