The 25th of December
Listener Appeal: Parents. Family Gatherings
Genre: Holiday / Jazz
First of all, I feel obligated to tell you that Dave Koz is showing off.
It’s not enough that this jazz saxophonist has several GRAMMY® nominations to his name. Not enough that he’s sold millions of albums and charted at #1 on Billboard’s “Top Contemporary Jazz” lists. It’s not even enough that he’s already released three (count ‘em three!) enormously popular CDs of Christmas music. No, that’s not good enough for Dave. He just had to go and record his best Christmas album yet—and he had to fill it with A-list talent that’ll make your jaw drop: Stevie Wonder, Bebe Winans, Johnny Mathis, Trombone Shorty, Fantasia, Gloria Estefan, Kenny G, and, well, even more. It really is kind of awesome.
The 25th of December’s conceit is that almost every song is a duet with a celebrity guest vocal and Dave Koz’ silky-smooth sax. It works. Time and again, these Christmas tunes are wound up, spun out, and filled with joy. This is the kind of CD you’ll want to put on as background music at holiday parties, and maybe even while you’re opening presents on Christmas morning.
The standout song here is the title track, “The 25th of December.” It’s a brand-new Christmas melody written and performed by the incomparable Bebe Winans. Rich, intimate vocals blend seamlessly with a spare instrumental background—it makes you feel like you should hold your breath while you take in the beauty of the moment.
It’s also hard to ignore Fantasia’s emotional, worshipful expression in the gospel-influenced medley of “O Come All Ye Faithful”, “Angels We Have Heard on High” and “Hark! The Herald Angels Sing.” She gives those songs a warm, inviting presence on this album. Likewise with Heather Headley’s effortless delivery of the recent standard, “My Grown Up Christmas List.” Very nice.
Gloria Estefan’s adult contemporary interpretation of “Do You Hear What I Hear” is also ear-pleasing, as is Johnny Mathis’ remake of his Christmas classic, “It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year.” The only real “miss” here is the slightly indulgent, “We Are the World”-style performance of the Beatles’ retro tune, “All You Need is Love.” That one seems thematically forced and, well, kind of cheesy when compared to the rest of the album. Still, it’s easy to overlook this little misstep in light of the overall joy of this holiday CD.
Dave Koz says that when he was making The 25th of December, his hope was this: “I wanted this album to be like the best holiday party, to make listeners feel like they had been invited to my house.” Well, he got pretty close, but I think he’ll be coming to our houses this Christmas instead of us going to his.
Enjoy this CD all season long, and invite your whole family to join with you and Dave Koz in a smooth-groove, saxophonic Christmas celebration.
Tags: Dave Koz,Smooth Jazz,Christmas,Bebe Winans,Stevie Wonder,Johnny Mathis,Trombone Shorty,Fantasia, Gloria Estefan,Kenny G,Heather Headley
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