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Reviewers: Tony Augarde [Editor], Steve Arloff, Nick Barnard, Pierre Giroux, Don Mather, Glyn Pursglove, Sam Webster, Jonathan Woolf



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EDDIE ALLEN

Jazzy Brass for the Holidays

DBCD Records DBCD 003

 

 


1. It Came Upon the Midnight Clear
2. Go Tell it on the Mountain
3. God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen
4. Hark! The Herald Angels Sing
5. Away in a Manger (Medley)
6. Jingle Bells
7. Frosty the Snowman
8. What Child is This?
9. Deck the Halls
10. Let it Snow! Let it Snow! Let it Snow!
11. We Three Kings
12. Good King Wenceslas/Cool King Wenceslas
13. The Little Drummer Boy
14. O Holy Night

Eddie Allen, Cecil Bridgewater - Trumpets
W. Marshall Sealy - French horn
Clark Gayton - Trombone
Kenny Davis - Acoustic bass
Carl Allen - Drums, glockenspiel



Is it that time of the year already? This is the first of the Christmassy discs I have received and it is quite good. Trumpeter Eddie Allen lives in New York and has worked with such jazzers as Art Blakey, Benny Carter and Houston Person, as well as playing in the pit orchestras for many musical shows. He has assembled a brass quartet backed by bass and drums to play his own arrangements of 14 seasonal tunes.

The arrangements are ingenious, and provide varied approaches to these songs. For example, It Came Upon the Midnight Clear starts with a peal of bells provided by the brass, while Jingle Bells begins with a jokily stumbling theme statement from trombonist Clark Gayton. Gayton furnishes some gutsy solos and has a nice line in growls. Eddie Allen makes a dependable lead trumpeter. Several tunes open in serious style - like a Salvation Army band - before swinging into the jazz.

Unfortunately W. Marshall Healy is less successful on the French horn. He is fine when playing a basic melody like What Child is This? (also known as Greensleeves) and O Holy Night but some of his solos are shaky. The two-man rhythm section provides solid support, with Carl Allen supplying marching drums for The Little Drummer Boy, setting off a New Orleans free-for-all.

Some tracks are rather short - for instance, Deck the Halls lasts for only one-and-a-half minutes and Frosty the Snowman clocks in at just under two minutes. But this is generally an acceptable Christmas CD if you fancy a jazzy Noël. Incidentally, tracks 6 and 7 are wrongly reversed in the sleeve listings.

Tony Augarde



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