Sunday, November 19, 2023

"Aubrey Logan Christmas" and Bonus Q&A

"BLUF" is a new-ish business acronym, meaning Bottom Line Up Front.  It's used to state the conclusive point of an otherwise lengthy communication at the beginning, then add the discussion, facts, information, etc used to come to the conclusion.  So...

BLUF:  Aubrey Logan Christmas is hands-down one of the best new Christmas albums this season.  

From the opening track "Sleigh Ride" through the studio-recorded closer "What Are You Doing New Year's Eve" and the bonus live performance of "Blue Christmas" with the Cincinnati Pops Orchestra, Aubrey Logan Christmas commands the spirit of Christmas music.

Labelled the "Queen of Sass", Aubrey Logan is either an immensely talented jazz trombonist who is also an incredible jazz singer, or a generationally talented jazz singer who also has world class chops as a trombonist.  Take your pick.  Aubrey has been a featured performer with Dave Koz and with Postmodern Jukebox, and has released three albums as a solo artist/bandleader.  All of her talents - singer, trombonist, scat singer, arranger, songwriter - burst forth from Aubrey Logan Christmas.  This is one of those records that I'll keep playing, and playing, and playing....

The album opener, "Sleigh Ride", is absolutely full of energy and creativity.  From the opening notes you're in for a thrill ride of a song.  Aubrey's rendition of "Sleigh Ride" makes you feel like you're out in that sleigh, having the time of your life- fast, hold on to your seat parts; slower, whew! we're on a flat, snowy meadow; whoa! hang on again, here we go! Absolutely one of the best unique interpretations I've heard.  And, oh yeah, full of sass.

"This Is How It Ends", an original song written by Aubrey, is a quite funny song about breaking up over the holidays, when it probably should have happened sooner.  Attention Christmas compilation creators - this one will make it on many annual comps.

"Blue Christmas" really highlights Aubrey's range as a singer.  Powerful in all registers, she commands this song.  With just a pinch of sass added for good measure.

"In the Bleak Midwinter" is an incredible vocal performance, sung with complete reverence to the song we know and love.

"O Holy Night" - wow.  Aubrey's arrangement is magnificent.  It's a bit non-traditional in the approach, with Aubrey's singing balanced with instrumental trombone taking the melody throughout the song, and the sung lyrics carefully chosen.  I am firmly in the 'don't mess with O Holy Night' crowd, but I absolutely love what Aubrey has done.

"What Are You Doing New Year's Eve" is a jazz tour de force - play it and be amazed ay Aubrey's scat singing.

Photo by Amy Gawlick

Aubrey is promoting her album, preparing for a December tour, and she still made time to answer a few questions for Merry & Bright.  Please enjoy learning more about Aubrey Logan Christmas from the Queen of Sass herself, then visit her website (or the usual music commerce sites) and get yourself a copy of Aubrey Logan Christmas.


Q&A with Aubrey Logan 

Merry & Bright:  Hi Aubrey!  Thanks for taking some time to answer a few questions about your amazing new album Aubrey Logan Christmas.  Let’s start with “Sleigh Ride”.  This is the freshest, most entertaining version of this song I’ve heard in many years.  Can you tell us a little about creating your take on this Christmas standard?

Aubrey Logan: Thank you for having me on! As for Sleigh Ride, it was a fine line for me between making it sound familiar, as we all want because…it’s such a classic…and fresh. The song didn’t need to be tampered with as Leroy Anderson already wrote in interesting chords complete with a modulation. But…we tampered with it! Primarily by making it as fast as we could without it being unplayable. And…we added in some bebop chord changes to the bridge. Hopefully it comes across familiar AND fresh. That was my intention!

MB:  You’re known as the “Queen of Sass”, a label that I imagine you wear proudly.  On Aubrey Logan Christmas, you even managed so sass up the venerated classic “Carol of the Bells”.  How do you apply the Aubrey Logan sass to a selection like this, and still maintain reverence to the familiar song we all know and love?

AL: Similarly to Sleigh Ride, I wanted to keep the integrity of the carol we all have heard over and over again. However, do it with a twist. Carol of the Bells is meant to be sung by a choir. I realized why: it’s because there’s no place to breath in the song! The lyrics run into each other with zero space, so when you inhale, someone else at least is singing so that it sound seamless. Not so when you do it solo! Adding a little comedy into my music has always been kinda my thing. So this lent itself perfectly to that.

Photo by Amy Gawlik

MB:  Your original composition, “This Is How It Ends” is a strikingly funny Christmastime breakup song.  Powerfully bluesy, I might call it an anti-torch song -  not about unrequited love, but about ‘there ain’t no more love here, bud’.  Can you share some thoughts about “This Is How It Ends”?

AL: An anti-torch song! I’m going to steal that one. Thank you! Ha! Well, I sat down to write an original Christmas song because my manager wanted me to. I didn’t have any idea what to write. Out of my head came a melody and chords. That usually happens though. Lyrics take me FOREVER. I had the melody written for such a long time before brainstorming enough to stumble upon the lyrics to This is How It Ends. It just kinda flowed out as I was sitting down one day trying to think of rhymes. As I continued to write the fictional story about the Christmas breakup, I started to imagine that it was like an episode of Seinfeld where George Costanza is recalling some lady breaking up with him over the holidays. “How dare she!” So that’s how the Anti Torch song was born.

MB:  I love the song selections – from the nearly ancient “In the Bleak Midwinter” from the Christina Rossetti poem, to the modern hip-funk James Brown classic “Santa’s Got a Brand New Bag”, to the Christmas canon cornerstone “The Christmas Song”.  What was your approach to choosing the songs for Aubrey Logan Christmas?

AL: The approach was simply this: I arranged Christmas songs that I like and avoided the ones that I don’t! (And we all have those!) For example…you’ll never hear me sing Santa Baby.

MB:  Aubrey, this is one of the best new Christmas albums this year – love it!  Thanks for letting us in on a few secrets about creating this great record!  I hope you bring your show to Kansa City some time soon 😊

AL: I am honored and I cannot wait to get back to KC!

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