Artist: Dave Koz & Friends
Album: The 25th Of December
Genre: Smooth Jazz, R&B
Quality: mp3, 320 kbps
The First Noel (03:44)
It’s The Most Wonderful Time Of The Year [feat. Johnny Mathis] (03:24)
This Christmas [feat. Eric Benet] (04:35)
Do You Hear What I Hear? [feat. Gloria Estefan] (04:12)
My Grown Up Christmas List [feat. Heather Headley] (04:50)
Another Silent Night [feat. Richard Marx] (03:25)
Let It Snow! Let It Snow! Let It Snow! [feat. Kenny G] (03:27)
The 25th Of December [feat. BeBe Winans] (04:20)
I’ve Got My Love To Keep Me Warm [feat. Trombone Shorty] (03:13)
O Holy Night [feat. Jonathan Butler] (05:09)
Medley: O Come All Ye Faithful / Angels We Have Heard On High / Hark! The Herald Angels Sing [feat. Fantasia] (04:15)
All You Need Is Love [feat. Stevie Wonder, Gloria Estefan, BeBe Winans, Maysa, Jonathan Butler, Richard Marx, Johnny Mathis, Eric Benet & Heather Headley] (05:42)
A stilted, sugary-sweet collection of holiday classics already heard dozens of times before or a cool, contemporary blend with enough timelessness and traditional edges to sound fresh years after its initial release: musicians either create one or the other (or, sometimes, an awkward ear-grating mix in-between) when it comes to Christmas albums. Experience is usually what differentiates the former from the latter and, thankfully, that’s what saxophonist Dave Koz drew from for his holiday set, The 25th of December.
Since anyone can (and let’s face it, practically everyone has) create a Christmas album, what makes one memorable rather than just marketable is the amount of effort put into the expected favorites and upping the appeal factor on the less-familiar tracks. Koz actually succeeds with both, pouring as much warmth and richness into “The First Noel” as one would expect from a marshmallow-floating mug of cocoa, then by invigorating “Let It Snow! Let It Snow! Let It Snow!” with a Big-Band feel featuring a fellow Sultan of The Sax, Kenny G. “Another Silent Night,” earnestly conveyed by Richard Marx, conjures up visions of teary eyes, lump-filled throats and dog-eared airline vouchers: “My work will have to wait. I can’t stand another day/of this holiday out here alone.”
With over two decades of contemporary jazz hits under his belt, Dave Koz may not need the assortment of famous Friends that abound on The 25th….., but their presence adds subtle enhancements rather than overwrought intrusions. Eric Benet’s skilled, yet snow-melting rendering of “This Christmas” works better for adult-only under-the-mistletoe moments than for general merriment (it will be ‘blazing’ alright, phew!), but everyone can enjoy the elegant, energetic send-up of “I’ve Got My Love To Keep Me Warm,” delivered by Troy “Trombone Shorty” Andrews and India.Arie, as well as Fantasia’s medley “O Come All Ye Faithful/Angels We have Heard On High/Hark! The Herald Angels Sing.”—-in typical ‘Tasia’ fashion, a somber beginning becomes a spirited middle and then a spunky, shoe-stomping end (Hallelujah!).
Whether it’s Gloria Estefan infusing comfort and Cuban-styled rhythms (“Do You Hear What I Hear”), Johnny Mathis shaking up his own signature standard (“It’s The Most Wonderful Time Of The Year”), BeBe Winans’ understated eloquence throughout the title track or the closing, star-studded sing-along “All You Need Is Love” (Marx, Mathis, Benet, Winans, Estefan, Jonathan Butler, Maysa, Stevie Wonder and Heather Headley,), Dave Koz’s silken sax work and well-chosen collaborators make The 25th Of December feel like a gathering of talented buddies rather than an obligatory Yuletide affair; all the more reason to instantly upload it and retain that jazz-inflected jubilancy for this season and others to come. Enthusiastically Recommended.
By Melody Charles