Archive for holiday jazz

JAZZ LIVES!!! with CurtJazz – Thursday, 12/1: JazzMas Begins with Buff Dillard

Posted in Charlotte Community Rado, Holiday Jazz, Jazz in Charlotte, JazzLives! with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on November 27, 2016 by curtjazz

Buff Dillard

In the same way that we used to on Live365’s Curt’s Cafe Noir, we will celebrate the Holidays throughout December on JAZZ LIVES with CurtJazz on Charlotte Community Radio. And we will kick off our “JazzMas” celebration in fine style, during our show on Thursday, December 1, with our special guest, trombonist Buff Dillard, who will join me from 7pm – 8 pm (ET).

Born into a musical family, Buff exhibited an interest for singing, drums and playing brass instruments at an early age. By the age of twelve, the trombone had become his passion and he decided to focus on mastering the slide. As a student of Martin Luther King High School in Philadelphia PA, his gift allowed him to attend the Philadelphia All-City Jazz Academy. While there, he performed with the Philadelphia All-City Jazz Band, Pieces of a Dream, and the legendary Count Basie Band. He was also able to attend jazz workshops instructed by the celebrated jazz trumpeter Wynton Marsalis.


As a solo artist, Mr. Dillard has released a total of 8 independent projects, including his latest album, Mr. Bonejazz and his Holiday themed EP Christmas Moments. Buff is endorsed by Conn/Selmer/King Instruments and continues his career as a trombonist, performer, independent international recording artist and CEO of Buff Dillard Music LLC.

During JAZZ LIVES!!! on December 1, Buff Dillard will join me during the 7 pm hour of the show. We will talk about his music, his influences, his current projects and we will play a few tracks from Christmas Moments that will help to get us all in the mood for the Holiday Season.

Be sure to join Buff Dillard and me as we prove that there’s nothing better than “Bone for the Holidays’, on JAZZ LIVES!!! with CurtJazz, Thursday, December 1; from 6 pm – 9 pm (EDT); on CLTCRadio.

JAZZ LIVES!!! with CurtJazz, airing LIVE every Thursday from 6:00pm to 9:00pm via OR use the Mixlr app where you can listen and chat with our hosts and guests alike.






Classic Christmas Clips

Posted in The Jazz Continues..., Video Vault with tags , , , , , on December 19, 2015 by curtjazz

For today’s post, I went on a hunt for some clips of some of the greats performing their classic Christmas Songs. I found some good ones. I know that some of these are lip syncs but they are still fun to watch.

Hope you enjoy them as well. Merry Christmas!

Nat “King” Cole: “The Christmas Song” from his television show

Eartha Kitt: “Santa Baby” from New Faces

Lou Rawls: “Merry Christmas, Baby” from Soul Train Christmas

Frank Sinatra and Bing Crosby: “Christmas Medley”

A New Gift from JLCO: “Big Band Holidays”

Posted in New on the Playlist, The Jazz Continues..., Video Vault with tags , , , , , , , , , on December 17, 2015 by curtjazz

Big Band HolidaysMy late father often said “The best thing to do in a hurry, is nothing.” As I’ve grown older, I’ve begun to truly appreciate the enduring wisdom in those words – for I’ve so often discovered that I make my biggest errors, when I do things for speed and not for pleasure. Such is the case with my post a couple of days ago about my favorite new Holiday Jazz Albums.

Since I decided last weekend that I was going to write something every day for the rest of the year to atone for my lack of activity over the last six months, I’d became totally focused on putting something out there, even if I hadn’t really thought it through. So when I completed the post on new Christmas Jazz, I dropped a few words and a couple of videos, and declared my mission accomplished, even though I felt as if I was missing something…it didn’t matter; at least I was making my self-imposed deadline.

I was missing something. Something that I had heard and enjoyed more, , than most of the albums in the original post – it was the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra’s Big Band Holidays; an album far richer and more complex than its simplistic title (and pedestrian cover art) would suggest.

Every December for over a decade, Wynton Marsalis, and the JLCO have come together with some of the great vocalists in jazz to perform their arrangements of some of the classic songs of the season. Thankfully many of these concerts were recorded. This year, Blue Engine Records, Jazz at Lincoln Center’s house label, assembled some of the choice selections from 2012 – 2014 concerts and released them as a compilation – featuring three of the best vocalists in jazz today, Rene Marie, Gregory Porter and Cecile McLorin Salvant and strong arrangements from some of the bands in house pros like Victor Goines, Sherman Irby and Ted Nash, plus a nod to the new testament Basie Band by including Ernie Wilkins classic arrangement of “Jingle Bells”. Big Band Holidays is a terrific jazz album first and a good Holiday album second, which is why I will probably be listening to it beyond next Friday night.

As you can see, these performances were also caught on video, so we can share a few of them with you. May these performances prove to be as timeless as my dad’s words.

Merry Christmas, everybody.


Album Review: New York Voices – Let It Snow

Posted in CD Reviews with tags , , , , , , on November 3, 2013 by curtjazz

The following review first appeared in the November 2013 edition of Eric Nemeyer’s Jazz Inside Magazine

New York Voices

new york voices

LET IT SNOW – Five Cent Records FCR-0001  Let it Snow; Christmas Song/Christmas Time; O, Little Town of Bethlehem; O Come, O Come, Emanuel; We Three Kings; Holiday for Strings; Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas; Sleepers, Wake!; O Come All Ye Faithful; The Merry Medley; I Wonder as I Wander; We Wish You a Merry Christmas; Silent Night

PERSONNEL: Darmon Meader, vocals, tenor sax, alto sax, soprano sax, flute; Peter Eldridge, vocals, piano; Kim Nazarian, vocals;  Lauren Kinhan, vocals; Andy Ezrin, piano; Paul Nowinski, bass; Marcello Pellitieri, drums; Bob Mann, guitar; David Finck, bass; Ben Wittman, drums; Tyler Kuebler, alto sax; Andy Axelrod, alto sax; Tedd Baker, tenor sax; Grant Langford, tenor sax; Doug Morgan, baritone sax; Brian MacDonald, trumpet; Kevin Burns, trumpet; Rich Sigler, trumpet; Time Leahey, trumpet; Joe Jackson, trombone; Jim McFalls, trombone; Dave Perkel, trombone; Lee Gause, trombone; Roger Rosenberg, baritone sax, bass clarinet; Frank Greene, trumpet; Matt Holman, trumpet; Randy Andos, trombone; Mike Davis, trombone; Studio Orchestra.

By Curtis Davenport

This album was as inevitable as snowfall at the North Pole. New York Voices have been moving in this direction since they appeared on the GRP Christmas Collection II singing a gorgeous version of “I Wonder as I Wander” in 1991. They then backed the great Nancy Wilson on a few selections on her first full length Christmas Album a decade later. Now in their 25th year as a group, we finally have the vocal quartet’s first disc of Holiday tunes, Let It Snow. It is just what you would expect from them; swinging, tasteful arrangements, strong vocal harmonies and a few well-placed surprises.

Over the years, New York Voices has been compared, understandably, to The Manhattan Transfer. They are both vocal quartets comprised of two men and two women that are closely associated with jazz. However, perhaps due to their lack of pop chart success, the NYV over the years have taken a few more chances than their more famous predecessors. This is also the case on their respective Holiday releases. I’ve always thought that the Manhattan Transfer’s Christmas Album, with the notable exception of a couple of tracks, was a disappointingly staid affair. Let it Snow, on the other hand, swings hard right out of the gate and keeps that pace going through the majority of its 13 selections.

The arrangements, which range from big band to full orchestra to a cappella are right on the money. “Let It Snow”, with a big band charts by the legendary Don Sebesky and a tenor sax solo by NYV’s jack of all trades Darmon Meader, is a joyous opener; full of blaring brass and scatted vocals. “O Little Town of Bethlehem”, arranged by Meader is a finger snapper, with creamy harmonies and a cool as winter guitar solo by Bob Mann. “We Three Kings” takes on a Middle Eastern air, appropriate for the subjects of the song, with beautiful contrapuntal harmonies. “Holiday for Strings” is a pleasant surprise as Meader’s vocal adaptation breathes new life into this old MOR radio staple. I’ve never cared for this song until now, as Meader has uncovered the hidden swing that was always there. Another winner is “The Merry Medley”, a mashup “The Man with the Bag”, “I’d Like You for Christmas” and “Santa Claus is Coming to Town”, encased in a big band setting. Each group member takes a quick turn as the leader and “Santa…” even takes a turn as a Bossa. “I Wonder As I Wander” is back, in an arrangement quite similar to the one from GRP 20 years ago, the big difference is this time the horns are real, instead of synthesized. It still mainly exists as a showcase for their vocal harmonies, which are some of the best in the business. “We Wish You a Merry Christmas” is done as an extremely pleasant jazz waltz highlighted by Andy Ezrin’s tasty piano solo,  Peter Eldridge’s vocal  duet with bassist David Finck and some Swingle Singers inspired group scatting.

Let It Snow is a very strong Holiday album from one of the best jazz vocal groups around today. New York Voices manage to walk a fine line, with enough jazz content to keep their fan base happy and manage to keep things lively and accessible enough to be enjoyed by those who may be looking for something new for their seasonal celebration. I’m glad that New York Voices finally got around to making the album that they always had in them.