C'mon, admit it, you know you're a sucker for a good holiday disc. I am too, anything from the ripping rock of Gary Ho-Ho-Hoey's discs to the strange coolness of the Ghostly Trio to the down home refrains of The Skaggs Family. When they're done right, these CDs bring on a righteous wave of nostalgia with twists on, or fidelities to, beloved refrains. Well, David Ian's Vintage Christmas is one of those you'll soon come to very much dig, immediately placing it, as I have, beside the classic Guaraldi Xmas gigs—with a bit of Moonlight Sonata and a touch of Satie—'cause the disc simultaneously swings while possessed of a beautiful frailty, especially when Acacia starts out the whole thing with a bird on the wire tremulous take on Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas. I don't know who this chanteuse is, have never run across her before, but four tracks feature her vocals, and I could listen all day long and well into the night.
Ian fuses warmth and breeziness in piano ministrations amid a trio executing letter-perfect renditions of West Coast Cool versions of nine classics and one original, all and sundry swingin' while pensive. Though Ian's normally, now get this, an antic heavy metal guitarist in the band Superchick, nominated for a 2009 Grammy, he began his musical career at age 5, studying classical piano. His drop dead surety of touch and perspicuity in intonation vouch for that long apprenticeship, and, while I very much, as a headbanger myself, laud his vigor in sonic barbarities, the final analysis may well see him taking his place in the jazz pantheon, 'cause Vintage Christmas is pristine and hints of the superior virtues of a Chris Abrahams (The Necks). Of course, then there are the guy's Kessel / Ellis / Byrd / Green jazz guitar lines as well—restrained, tasty, to the point.
Andre Miguel Mayo also guests and captures the vocal presence of a New York City busker, a cat on the street side of studied. He pops up on two cuts and then duets with Acacia on a second version of Ian's Christmas Time with You to close the disc. References to Brubeck, Bill Evans, Nat King Cole, and Chet Baker are as inevitable as Guaraldi by the time the eleven cuts come to an end, and the clever Vanity Fair / Playboy Pad / New Yorker cover art by Jeremy Morgan is a picture perfect evocation of elder times revamped. Of the various holiday CDs I'm buying or seeing as submissions for review consideration, this is the clear prize winner, a release that will easily weather the years and decades to come as mood music of choice for the discerning palettes of cool cats, hipsters, beat sophisticates, young and old modernes, and even atheist hepzibahumbugs like myself.
Edited by: David N. Pyles
Copyright 2011, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
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