For a set of elegant Christmas classics, perfect for holiday parties or gatherings, look no further than Seattle-based jazz vocalist Lisa Fox and her new Winter Wonder. The tone is warm and the arrangements simple. Backed primarily by a trio that includes Eric Verlinde (piano), Rick Leppanen (bass), and Chris Patin (drums), Fox takes us on a 12-song journey through holiday favorites.
The track list includes a few lesser-known surprises, such as “Merry Christmas Darling” (a holiday hit for The Carpenters in 1970). Fox also delivers a soothing “A Christmas Love Song,” previously recorded by Barbra Streisand. Moving along at a comfortably swinging mid-tempo are a pair of duets (with Clipper Anderson) on tune that, while not technically Christmas-themed, have become holiday favorites: “I’ve Got My Love to Keep Me Warm” and “Baby It’s Cold Outside.”
Lisa Fox exhibits exquisite phrasing on classic ballads, including “Silent Night” and “I’ll Be Home for Christmas,” the latter benefiting from a lushly melodic saxophone solo. Another ace ballad, “Christmas Time is Here” (originally written by Vince Guaraldi for the 1965 Peanuts special, A Charlie Brown Christmas), features tender piano work by Verlinde. In fact, Verlinde’s lines are highlights throughout (the pianist also served as the album’s arranger).
The playing is consistently tasteful (another guest, Laura Lagerstedt, provides supportive additional vocals on select tracks). “It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas” is a danceable, up-tempo rendition that—like the entire album—perfectly evokes the good cheer of the holiday season.
To purchase Lisa Fox’s Winter Wonder, highly recommended for anyone seeking a new addition to their holiday music rotation, visit CD Baby (available as a physical CD or download). Alternatively, the album is available at Seattle’s Easy Street Records. A concert to celebrate the release of Winter Wonder takes place at Tula’s in Seattle, December 22 (visit Tula’s website for information).[amazon template=iframe image&asin=B0041TW5L8]