New Releases Spotlight: Week of December 12, 2016
This week in the Music Lounge, our music director Paul Abella reviews three new holiday discs!
Well, since we’re well into the holiday season at this point, I figured it’d be fun to look at three of the best new seasonal releases that made their way to WDCB this year…
The NOLA Players have put out a really nice disc perfect for some December spins. Christmastime In New Orleans features a big band stocked with excellent players – saxophonist Tony Dagradi, bassist Roland Guerin and percussionist Jason Marsalis among them – playing holiday favorites. The album is at its best when they let the New Orleans shine, like on "Go Tell It On the Mountain," or the version of "Christmas in New Orleans" with quotes from "Do You Know What It Means To Miss New Orleans" thrown into the mix.
Chicagoan Kurt Elling’s addition to the mix is The Beautiful Day. It’s exactly what you’d expect out of a Kurt Elling album. It plays out like a program, as opposed to a collection of songs, reaches for the spiritual instead of the easy hits (there’s not a snowman or reindeer to be found here), and finds ways to make each song unmistakable in its Kurt Elling-ness. Songs like "Some Children See Him" and "We Three Kings" really open up. This might be a Christmas album, but it’s not at all background listening. We’ve been digging into this one from the second we got it a couple of weeks back, and with good reason. There’s a lot to like here. It’s a shame that it’ll have to go away on December 26th…there’s no way I’ll be tired of it yet by then.
And we’ll wrap this one up with another great singer from here in Chicago who put out a spiritually minded Christmas album. Lucy Smith just released her fantastic album Singing Christmas, which includes her wonderful vocals and features her creative arranging. The rest of the band includes bassist Bryan Doherty, pianist Amr Marcin Fahmy, drummer Michael Caskey, and on a handful of songs, saxophonist Greg Ward. "Prepare the Way," "O Zion," "Silent Night," "Do You Hear What I Hear" and "O Come, O Come Emmanuel" are my favorites. I’m sure as you hear this one on WDCB over the next couple of weeks, you’ll find some favorites of your own as well.
Over the course of the next couple of weeks, we’ll be sharing our favorite CDs from 2016 with you, and we’ll talk about new releases for 2017 in January. I hope you have a wonderful holiday season, and we’ll be back in January with more new music! ‘Til then, keep your ears open!