This is the time of year when music lovers tend to be inundated with holiday music. Every year, more and more of our favorite artists add their spins to classic holiday tunes. There are so many holiday CD’s out that it is often difficult to listen to them all. With that said, I bring you, the Yellowjackets – Peace Round.
Holiday music is merely glorified cover tunes. There is an art to making a good cover. The trick is to make the listener forget that they’re listening to a cover. The Yellowjackets have succeeded in doing this. They add a little something here and take out a little something there. They infuse the very traditional holiday tunes we’ve all heard for years with their own blend of contemporary jazz. The results include a very funky version of “The Little Drummer Boy,” which begins the CD. The song is led by Bob Mintzer on soprano sax, with Russell Ferrante accenting the whole tune on piano.
The funk is effectively provided by Marcus Baylor on drums, and Jimmy Haslip on bass.
Another standout tune on this CD is their version of “Deck the Halls.” Once again, the rhythm section of Baylor and Haslip adds the groove which updates the whole song. The voice in this track is provided by the soprano sax.
My favorite tune on this CD is the title track, “Peace Round.” This is a lovely, but understated piece. It begins with a soft solo piano introduction by Russell Ferrante. Bob Mintzer then joins in on the sax. Midway through the song, Jimmy Haslip provides a very subdued bass solo, which is accentuated by Ferrante’s hushed piano playing. Throughout the song Marcus Baylor gently brushes his drums and cymbals, never once overpowering the sound of this delicate song. The playing in this song is just beautiful. It’s subtle, without being restrained.
There are 10 tracks on this CD, including the one vocal tune, “The First Noel,” sung by Jean Baylor. The band’s playing allows the talents of this vocalist to feature.
For Yellowjackets fans, this holiday CD is a treat. For those just looking for some great holiday music, this is a good one to add to your collection. You’ll enjoy this CD for many Christmases to come.