Tim Warfield is lean, mean, and dressed in Christmas green for his Jazzy Christmas CD, a disc that right away starts out pointillistically, jumpy, then lays back into a mellow matrix, its snappy intro leaping back in every so often for contrast. As soon as I saw that soprano sax he's slinging on the cover, I thought "Uh-oh…George Howard…", but, no, this guy knows how to swing and how to make that instrument sing. No less a coterie than Dizzy Gillespie, Donald Byrd, Jimmy Smith, Isaac Hayes, and a list so long it'd make even Santa gasp has recruited the cat for their records and tours. And that was Tim you saw at various times on The Today Show and Bill Cosby's You Bet Your Life, the latter of which ushered him into the house band until 1992.
This isn't just an Xmas CD, it's a jazz wallow, though marriage to the holiday is inescapable, especially when Joanna Pascale takes on Let it Snow in sexily jumped-up be-bop vocals. As soon as she fades back, Warfield's on the job with a flurry of inventive lines keeping a firm smile pasted to the listener's satisfied mug. Stefon Harris hops in with Hampton / Burton vibes, lending an MJQ-gone-nuts flavor. Almost all the cuts here are quite extended (see the times in the song roster below), and Let It Snow shows just what that means, going through a number of transitions before returning to home base.
Pascale again pumps up in Caroling Caroling and then turns things over to Terell Stafford and his exuberant trumpet. Oh Christmas Tree cools things down for a bit—Jamie Davis taking a soulful approach on the vocals on this one—and stays smoky and mellow the whole song through, a ballad if ever there was one, Cyrus Chestnut's piano supplying the bulk of the extrapolative permutations mid-way. That's followed by Silent Night, Pascale taking from Davis' example, but you just can't keep that girl tamed even when she's reining it in—just too much life in her, and it peeks out from the edges. I was particularly tickled to see The Dreidel Song as a bonus, which Warfield catches between klezmer, jazz, and Spike Jones, arabesquing his solo lines in a long and very satisfying section. So, yep, with this disc, you can, as Tim advises of the season, "keep warm but stay cool". Very cool indeed.
Edited by: David N. Pyles
Copyright 2013, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
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