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Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Review: Al Jarreau - Christmas

Al Jarreau – Christmas
2008, Rhino Records

Seven-time Grammy Award winner Al Jarreau has a legendary reputation. He’s won Grammys in four separate decades, and is the only artist in history to win Grammys in three separate musical genres (Pop, Jazz and R&B.) Jarreau is known in jazz circles for his scat singing and his ability to emulate the sounds of various musical instruments. In the popular realm he may be most remembered for writing/recording the theme of the Bruce Willis/Cybil Sheppard TV Hit Moonlighting. For the holidays in 2008, Al Jarreau has released a CD entitled, simply, Christmas.

There aren’t many in the business with smoother sound than Jarreau. He’s an old school crooner with a voice like velvet. The arrangements on Christmas reflect the various musical hats he’s worn over the years as well. Winter Wonderland is done in a 1970’s jazz/soul style that is fitting. Hark The Herald Angels Sing I wasn’t as thrilled with. It’s done as a Calypso that just doesn’t fit with the song for me. Jarreau’s version of White Christmas is gorgeous and touching. Carol Of The Bells has a great progressive jazz vibe that you just have to hear.

The Christmas Song is handled in a jazz ensemble arrangement that works very well and really highlights Jarreau’s pipes. I’ll Be Home For Christmas is arranged in the depths of beautiful harmonies provided by Take 6. This is the highlight recording of the disc, as Jarreau and Take 6 fit together like milk and cookies. Gloria In Excelsis is given the full Gospel send-up and works very well. Other notable tracks are Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas, Some Children See Him and The Little Christmas Tree.

What can you say about Al Jarreau? The man can still sing rings around many of the young bucks currently climbing the charts in the Pop, R&B and Jazz worlds. His Christmas CD is faithful enough to tradition to appeal to the mass market and new and fresh enough to keep songs you hear hundreds of times each December interesting and fun. I’m not 100% on board with a couple of the stylistic choices here, but too bad for me. It’s an excellent album and definitely a top choice for the Christmas season.

Rating: 4.5 Stars (Out of 5)

You can learn more about Al Jarreau at You can purchase a copy of Christmas at or wherever holiday music is sold.

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