Merry and Bright readers who stay in touch through the off-season know that I'm a big fan of Jillaine, the immensely talented, beautiful, and young jazz songstress hailing from Utah by way of Iowa. Earlier this year, I contacted Jillaine and asked about purchasing her Christmas CD and having her sign it (Der Bingle loves signed books and CDs). Jillaine responded by sending me her entire CD catalog, signed as promised! I listened to her first two albums and fell in love with her voice and style, and reviewed the records in the blog (here and here).
I saved Jillaine's Christmas CD until the season, so it would be like a little treat for myself. You know – not unwrapping until the season and all. Well, the season arrived, I unwrapped “Jazzy Christmas To You!”, and it is, indeed, a Christmas treat from Jillaine.
Folks, I'm telling you, Jillaine has as distinctive a voice and style as I've heard in a long time. I had been totally blown away the first time I have heard an artist only three times – Oscar Peterson, Madeleine Peyroux, and Sophie Madeleine. Jillaine is number four.
“Jazzy Christmas To You!” is an amazing addition to Jillaine's recordings. Her voice is perfectly suited to Christmas music, and her interpretations of Christmas standards are fresh, unique, and, above all, fun!
“Deck the Halls” opens the album. In my opinion, “Deck the Halls” can be a tough song to make memorable. I've heard many competent but ultimately unexciting versions by artists major and minor. Jillaine breathes life into “Deck the Halls” in a completely original fashion, full of energy, full of holiday spirit. It's a perfect way to kick off the record (and, this song will open Der Bingle's 2012 Christmas Comp for family and friends).
There is only one rule for artists who record “Jingle Bells” - have fun with it. Bing had fun. Barenaked Ladies had a whole lotta fun with their version. Jillaine gives us a version of “Jingle Bells” loaded with fun and energy. It's short, sweet, and spirited.
The best song on the album may be “What Child Is This?”. Jillaine performs this with a soulful, spiritual power that is beyond comparison. Her love for the music, the message, and the meaning of Christmas exudes from this performance. I literally shed a tear the first time I listened to it.
There are 15 songs on the album, all of them strong, all of them beautiful. Jillaine's musicians, Craig Adler on piano and guitar, James Archibald on bass, and Ryan Flores on drums blend and complement Jillaine's vocals. Craig's piano work is especially superb, not simply accompanying Jillaine but instead combining and partnering, as great musical performances should.
What could be better?
I'll tell you what – a follow-up album this year! Jillaine has released “Jazzy Christmas To You II”, which I'm expecting to arrive in the mail any day now. No waiting around to open it – nosiree :-)
Hey Jillaine – how about a “Jazzy Christmas To You III” next year? Please?
Jillaine Music website
Jazzy Christmas To You on Amazon
And, once again, thanks to my friend Stubby for introducing me to Jillaine's music.