Album Review: Christmas Time Is Here from Carolyn Lee Jones
Artist: Carolyn Lee Jones
CD Title: Christmas Time Is Here
Label: Catn’round Sound
Merging swing, bossa nova, blues, and smooth jazz, vocalist Carolyn Lee Jones adds these rich flavors into a selection of Christmas tunes on her latest release Christmas Time Is Here from her label Catn’round Sound. Ringing in the Yuletide, her performance shows reverence for the traditional singalongs while infusing her trademark sensitivity and tender vocal strokes.
Shelley Carrol dabbles “I’d Like You for Christmas” with winsome saxophone trembles, jumping into the melodic progressions during Jones’s vocal breaks, making for impromptu pivots along the track. The bopping grooves lining “Merry Christmas Baby” are laden in good cheer as Mario Cruz’s saxophone solo flashes a bright and bouncy blare while Jones lures listeners into the festive mood.
The sleek swagger of her vocal stride enshrouds “Red Christmas” in a vintage glint as the holiday-imbued emanations mounted by Brad Williams’s piano keys and Todd Parsnow’s guitar strums kindle a jolly ambience, complemented by Dennis Durick’s brushed drumstrokes and Lynn Seaton’s vaunting bass pulls. Moving along, Jones’s rendition of “Santa Baby” is anchored in burlesque-style vocal shimmies swathe in the sensual swivels of Tony Baker’s trombone and Mario Cruz’s and Dave Monsch’s saxophones.
The breezy atmospherics illuminating “White Christmas” infuses ethereal vibrations through the track, holding Jones’s vocals suspended on a celestial plane. The fan favorite “Toyland” showcases Jones’s warm timbres and caressing vocal strokes, encircling listeners in dreamy ethers. Jones closes the recording with the 1946 gem “Count Your Blessings (Instead of Sheep),” penned by composer Reginald Morgan with lyrics by Edith Temple. Her interpretation of the American Songbook staple is adorned in swinging blues trimmings, bridging vintage jazz features with modern sensibilities.
Jones’s refined style is imprinted throughout the recording from her honeyed timbres to her smooth gait. Whether her vocals are prancing, floating, or waltzing, Jones’s presence is the main attraction, sparking good cheer and tranquility.
Brad Williams – piano, B3, and celeste
Jonathan Fisher – bass and cello
Andrew Griffith – drums
Tom Burchill – guitar
Steven Heffner – bass
Todd Parsnow – guitar
Tony Baker – trombone
Keith Jordan – Fluegelhorn and trumpet
Shelley Carrol – saxophone
Lynn Seaton – bass
Dennis Durick – drums and percussion
Mario Cruz – saxophone
Dave Monsch – baritone sax and alto flute
Veronica Gan – violins
Imelda Tecson – viola
Buffi Jacobs – cello