Lovers Holiday is Christmas lounge music for the hipster, the romantic housewife, and the exec who's had it up to here and desperately needs to unwind but not fall asleep over his barrage of martinis. It's even a disc for The Sinatra Set…but a Sinatra who would've been more at home with the Manhattan Transfer rather than Harrah's and bluehairs. Like Frankie, Jason Paul Curtis doesn't take things too far outside norms, so it's the little twists that mean so much here, that extra modicum of warmth and sincerity blended with élan and nuance. The most interesting element in Lovers Holiday is the mix of originals and classics, as Curtis not only makes the standards his own but even kinda one-ups 'em, a difficult task, with his own creations, material like Blue Friday, which is not only swingin' but sports a very engrossing clipped vocal presence that entirely informs the bouncy nature of the cut. Then there's the title cut Lovers Holiday with its delicately killer repeating piano line highlighting Curtis' wispy blue-eyed enticements.
I hate to say it because I love, for instance, his working of Guaraldi's Christmas Time is Here, but the real attractions here are Curtis's songs, which uniformly evidence freshness and melodic integrity, not to mention seasonally convincing sentimentality. He imports Steve Allen's and Cole Porter's memorable fare as well, most pointedly in the take on Porter's In the Still of the Night, but puts an extra dimension behind his own compositions. Swinglab, the backing ensemble, is in no small way responsible as well, especially in pianist Ray Mabalot's arrangements and sessioneer Dave Schiff's flutes, saxes, and clarinet, but Curtis is one of those rare writers who can actually craft Christmas music with genuine spark and pull new elements out of the celebratory holiday. None of it is kiddy oriented, no Jingle Bells and such, and if at least one of these doesn't become standard along with the Sammy Cahn / Jule Styne materials we all know so well (two of which are included in Holiday), then you'll find me marching to the North Pole to see if I can't convince a certain jolly fat guy to lobby his clients to come to their collective senses.
Edited by: David N. Pyles
Copyright 2012, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
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