Monday, October 26, 2015

Russ Lorenson "In the Holiday Spirit"

"In the Holiday Spirit", San Francisco crooner Russ Lorenson's 2015 Christmas album, is aptly named, as listening to the 15 tracks will certainly get you in the spirit of the season. From the opening notes of the rousing "Shake Hands with Santa Claus" through the closer "It's Christmas Time All Over The World" (with the San Francisco Boys Chorus), Mr. Lorenson's 2nd Christmas album, following the 2006 release "What I Want For Christmas", will alternately get your toes tapping with up-tempo numbers and then let you relax and enjoy the more adagio arrangements.

"Shake Hands with Santa Claus" is a terrific start to the album - upbeat, energetic, and a perfect introduction to Mr. Lorenson's style and his band, the Kelly Park Big Band.  "Holiday for Two" continues the jazzy, finger-snappin' beat and features outstanding work on sax and trumpet.  "Let's Share Christmas", the first of two songs by jazz great John Pizzarelli, slows down the tempo for a touching love song for the holiday season.  "You're All I Want For Christmas" brings the groovin' swing back.

One of my favorites on the album is "Mrs. Claus", an ode to ol' Santa's better half, featuring Marcel Marchetti on flugelhorn.  It's slow and bluesy, loving and tender, and beautifully done,  Extra eggnog for the songwriters Nancy Schimmel and Candace Forrest.

For me, one of the best features of "In the Holiday Spirit" is the selection of songs.  Too-often recorded standards like "Silver Bells" and "Winter Wonderland" are nowhere to be found.  The closest to the top tier Christmas canon are "The Christmas Blues", "Kissin' by the Mistletoe", and Mr. Lorenson's fine interpretation of "Little Drummer Boy/Peace on Earth".  Russ's rendition of "Kissin' by the Mistletoe" is one that just makes you smile :-)  The broad selection of songs makes this a tremendously enjoyable Christmas album.

The 15 songs on "In the Holiday Spirit" are a rapid-fire mix of up-beat swinging Christmas tunes and slower crooner ballads that will keep you hopping from beginning to end.  It would be a perfect soundtrack to trimming your tree on a cold December night, accompanied by a nice clove and cinnamon spiced hot toddy :-)

I have to give a Merry and Bright shout-out to the Kelly Park Big Band:  Kelly Park, Daniel Fabricant, Kent Bryson, Terrence Brewer, Tony Malfatti, Rich Armstrong, Marcel Marchetti, and Rene Jenkins.  The band, plus a long roster of backup vocalists, really make this a special album to kick off the holiday season.

"In the Holiday Spirit" will be on sale November 6th.

Russ Lorenson website
Amazon link
iTunes link

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