Once again it’s that time of year when I look down at the review pile and notice, to my great consternation, that there are several jazz holiday releases mixed in there and I should probably write another survey of all those titles just like I have for the last couple of years. My usual flurry of humbugs aside–it’s not the year for it, I suppose–I was a little surprised that I found only two for 2020. Tough crowd, eh 2020? I thought about cramming them into an old-fashioned double feature but 3D Jazz Trio’s Christmas in 3D warrants its own time in the spotlight.
I’ve reviewed several releases from the 3D Jazz Trio, not to mention associated acts like The Diva Jazz Orchestra–that’s where pianist Jackie Warren, bassist Amy Shook and drummer Sherrie Maricle first started playing together. I was a tad harsh on them early on for relying to heavily on that “diva” image in the first couple of releases, something about it being a little dated and that they should just play and show everyone just how good they are. Over the course of the last couple of albums, I’ve retracted that criticism because they’ve done exactly that. They just play, and now I shut up. I wish I’d learned that a little sooner.
My bias against Christmas music in general, and jazz releases more specifically, is that everyone is more focused on sustaining a mood than in really letting the music shine. My example of the antidote for this, as always, is A Charlie Brown Christmas–and that obligatory reference can now be checked off the list. The music from Vince Guaraldi is probably still fresh in your mind from the first time you heard it when you were a child. I get that same simplicity and beauty from the approach the 3D Jazz Trio takes with these very familiar songs.
The 3D Jazz Trio, however, isn’t forcing a mood on anyone. They know that some of our favorite holiday songs such as “Greensleeves,” “O Christmas Tree” and “God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen” are based on very memorable melodies, the kind that are perfect for jazz improvisation. In that respect, this album just flies along–solid and swinging jazz every step of the way–with the lone exception of “Please Daddy (Don’t Get Drunk This Christmas)” which features some impressive country fiddle playing from Shook.
Christmas in 3D isn’t going to replace Charlie Brown as the thing to play when you hate Christmas music but you don’t want to be a Scrooge in front of everyone, especially those people who think that dancing with your arms up in the air and your hips swaying back and forth is the cool way to react to good jazz being played in a crowded room full of half-drunken boomers. (This silver lining brought to you by Covid-19.)
But the 3D Jazz Trio can be played right after that.