Well, first of all, Lea DeLaria is another Ella / Sarah vocalist, 'cause, man, can this chick sing, swing, and scat! There have been a bunch of very cool jazz and blues Xmas albums issued over the last couple decades (The Nylons' Harmony, Leon Redbone's Christmas Island, Aaron Neville's Soulful Christmas, the compilation Even Santa Gets the Blues, far more than can be recited here) and this slots verrrrrry nicely in with them, so much so that you'll find yourself playing it well beyond the holiday season…and, c'mon, you already do that with the Beach Boys' classic holiday LP and Guaraldi's Charlie Brown Xmas sides, doncha?
DeLaria also possesses a quantum of that Ella sensual sass, shown clearly in What are You Doing New Year's Eve?, a slo-burn that takes its time raising the temperature, brightly smoldering, Janette Mason's Hammond spicing up the envelope. Lea, however, is more than capable of handling the ballads, as Guaraldi's perennially popular Peanuts paean, Christmas Time is Here, bears witness. Then we have the two-man horn section of Julian Siegel (saxes) and Martin Shaw (trumpets) going to town in God Bless Ye Merry Gentlemen and elsewhere.
In fact, it's the horn duo which shows how judiciously this disc was engineered. Clean, bright, in what sounds to be a verite environment, just those two guys sound like a small big band, positioned perfectly in the mix. Nothing whatsoever goes wanting, from the smallest modulations of DeLaria's subtle tremolo to the edges and shapes of Mason's notes. All of this only adds to the festive atmosphere, and if you feel like a martini or a handful of rum balls while be-bopping to Be a Santa, go ahead! After all, that impish pixie, Santa's helper, on the liner isn't revealing décolletage and her derriere isn't sitting in vermouth for no reason. Listen up, drink up, kick up those heels, and make this a Christmas to put in your diary.
Edited by: David N. Pyles
Copyright 2010, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
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