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Thursday, December 24, 2009

Carla Bley - Carla's Christmas Carols (WATT, 2009)

All right, a little sentimentality and seasonal atmosphere are allowed. Carla Blay, the great lady of modern jazz, has just released this album with Steve Swallow on 5-string electric bass, and the Partyka Brass Quintet, that consists of Ed Partyka on bass trombone and tabla, Tobias Weidlinger on trumpet, flugelhorn, and glockenspiel, Axel Schlösser on trumpet, flugelhorn, and chimes, Christine Chapman on horn, and Adrian Mears on trombone. 

This is as far removed from The Escalator Over The Hill, as you can imagine, but it is fun. The arrangements are excellent, the redefinition of these songs to a jazz environment work well (or blues, just listen to "It Came Upon A Midnight Clear"), with the necessary dose of fun thrown in the mix ("Jinge Bells" is just fabulous), but without ever becoming irreverent. It is an exercise in style, but a great one. The Partyka Quintet is an excellent ensemble, and hearing Steve Swallow's fabulous bass-playing is always a treat.

It is a little bit of a tear-jerker, but as said, why not? This is so much more listenable than all the other Christmas music that is being released. And if it is a little commercial, well, then I hope it sells.

Listen and download from iTunes.

© stef