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Music Review: Dave Koz – Ultimate Christmas

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If you’re looking for smooth jazz for Christmas, Ultimate Christmas is for you.

Dave Koz is a six-time Grammy nominated saxophonist, and it is easy to see why as he offers tasty takes on 16 Christmas favorites as well as a new instrumental prelude and coda. The songs were chosen from Koz’s three former Christmas albums, December Makes Me Feel This Way, A Smooth Jazz Christmas and Memories of a Winter’s Night.

The CD is not all instrumental. “The Christmas Song” features sultry vocals by Brenda Russell, while “White Christmas” is enhanced by Kelly Sweet’s lovely voice, and Kimberly Locke guest stars on a great, bluesy “Please Come Home for Christmas,” which is my favorite track on the CD by far.

The rest of the songs on this CD include delightfully swinging versions of “Sleigh Dave Koz Ultimate ChristmasRide” and “Winter Wonderland,” and new takes on “Hark the Herald Angels Sing,” “The Little Drummer Boy,” “O Tannenbaum,” and even a song for Hannukah, “Eight Candles.” The mood is uplifting and joyful throughout. While many of the arrangements are fairly traditional, (as with “The Little Drummer Boy,”) Koz and his excellent fellow musicians are always engaging and interesting to hear. Among the other musicians featured on more than one song on the CD are guitarist Peter White, trumpeter Rick Braun, and pianist David Benoit. Russell, who sings on “White Christmas,” also provides keyboards on “Silent Night.” Their skill adds immeasurably to this recording.

This is the perfect CD for listening to in the car or in the office, while decorating the tree, or for entertaining guests. It will fill your heart with holiday spirit while also helping you relax, unwind, and enjoy the season. You will find yourself turning to it again and again once you add it to your collection.

Dave Koz and Friends will be touring in support of Ultimate Christmas beginning in Atlanta the day after Thanksgiving. I will be at that concert, and look forward to reporting on it here. In the meantime, this CD is going to work with me the Monday after Thanksgiving. I can’t think of a better way to get through a work day.

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About Rhetta Akamatsu

I am an author of non-fiction books and an online journalist. My books include Haunted Marietta, The Irish Slaves, T'ain't Nobody's Business If I Do: Blues Women Past and Present, and Sex Sells: Women in Photography and Film.
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