Wer der Meinung ist, das Weihnachtsfest solle immer leise und besinnlich ablaufen, der zieht sich jetzt besser warm an! Mit Christmas '64 veröffentlicht Verve das vielleicht heißeste Weihnachtsalbum aller Zeiten wieder!
Hammond-Monster Jimmy Smith ist ja dafür bekannt, dass er jedem Material eine gehörige Dosis Groove und Blues einverleiben kann, und so macht er es auch hier: Beschauliche Weihnachts-Ohrwürmer wie Jingle Bells, Silent Night oder Santa Claus Is Coming To Town kriegen es hier so besorgt, dass dem Weihnachtsmann Hören und Sehen vergehen. Das swingt und hat Power, nicht zuletzt dank kraftvoller Bigband-Begleitung unter der Leitung von Billy Byers und Al Cohn.
Jimmy smith presents a modern Christmas – Christmas ’64. The arrangements are as new as tomorrow’s sports car; the songs included are as traditional as the tinseled tree.
Christmas ’64 showcase the dynamic Jimmy Smith organ in a variety of settings with full orchestra and with his own swing trio. The big band is conducted by Billy Byers throughout, and the arrangements are by Byers too, with the exception of “We Three Kings,” which comes from the pen of Al Cohn.
Since Jimmy is one of the most original jazz musicians playing today, it stands to reason that the music on this album is like nothing heard in jazz to date, The classic Christmas catalog is given new dimension – a broad, soulful sound – that in no way destroys the content and the meaning of these majestic songs, but adds to their emotional fervor.
The album actually holds two different versions of that stately carol “God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen.” First, there’s a big-band interpretation that underlines the majestic quality of the melody and leaves mush room for Jimmy to display his flashing technique. Then, too, there’s a trio version of the song which eloquently shows the breath and teamwork of the three-man concept.
Jimmy’s reading of “Jingle Bells” puts a rubber-tired swing under the one-horse open sleigh. Besides the organist’s propulsive solo in the trio setting, there’s some very nimble guitar work from Quentin Warren.
“We Three Kings (of Orient Are)” was arranged by Al Cohn. It’s filled with Near-Eastern undertones and the crystal-clear sound of chimes and bells. These are balanced against the sound of percussion and deep ensemble passages. All of this opens up into a bright, flaring setting for Jimmy’s most unusual chorus.
Christmas ’64 will last long after the shining lights and the yuletide tree have been put away. It is not only a seasonal album, designed for listening when the holiday time is at its height, but a definitive collection of familiar material treated in a highly original manner. Music that will stand up at any time – strong arrangements and exciting solo work are the order of the day.