A New Jazz Twist to the Holiday Classics: The John Brown Quintet Releases "Merry Christmas, Baby"
New York, NY -- Christmas classics are reimagined in the capable hands of straight-ahead jazz masters on Merry Christmas, Baby, the latest CD from the Durham-based John Brown Quintet. The upbeat rhythms and winding improv solos glide in and around trumpeter Ray Codrington's smooth vocals on a CD that would enliven any tree-trimming party. Frosty, the Snowman," Let It Snow, I'll Be Home for Christmas" and nine other tunes evoke the traditional Christmas season and spirit. I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus" is all instrumental.
These are some of the Christmas songs I grew up listening to as a kid. They're part of the fabric that defines Christmas," bandleader John Brown says from his office at Duke University in Durham, North Carolina, where he is director of Duke's Jazz Program. These twelve songs emerged as the ones where we could add the most impact to the Christmas jazz repertoire."
The improvisational dialogue in the solo spaces on Merry Christmas, Baby is what, to Brown's mind, distinguishes the songs from contemporary jazz or other versions of the songs. Happy Birthday, Jesus," a song that may be new to listeners, the quintet decided to play as a straight-ahead jazz ballad. It is particularly meaningful for Codrington because one of his twin sons used to sing the song in his church choir as a child. The son died from a brain aneurism when he was thirty years old. To Brown, That song resonates with Ray's voice. There's something for everyone in here."
Brown's aim with this new offering of Christmas jazz is simple: To make you feel good. Christmas is a time to promote peace and well-being regardless of religion."
For jazz lovers and Christmas music enthusiasts alike, Merry Christmas, Baby makes the perfect soundtrack for holiday entertaining on a snowy evening in December.
About the John Brown Quintet
In the spirit of Art Blakey and other influential bandleaders, Brown mixes up his quartet and invites different musicians in to play. On Merry Christmas, Baby, Brown (double bass), Codrington (trumpet) and Brian Miller (saxophone) play on all the songs. Drummer Clif Wallace and pianist Gabe Evans step in on Let It Snow," I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus" and Frosty, the Snowman." For the other songs, Derel Monteith stands in on piano and Rick Dior on drums. Brown formed the quintet in 2004.
About John Brown
John Brown's debut CD, Terms of Art: A Tribute to Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers, was released earlier in 2007. He has performed in the United States and abroad with jazz greats Wynton Marsalis, Ellis Marsalis, Delfeayo Marsalis, Elvin Jones, Nicholas Payton and many others. He was nominated for a Grammy Award for his performance and co-writing on vocalist Nnenna Freelon's 1995 Concord release, Shaking Free. Brown counts Carnegie Hall, the Blue Note and Kennedy Center among the notable venues where he has performed, as well as major jazz fests such as the JVC Jazz Festival, Montreal Jazz Festival and Jazz Vienne. He lives in Durham, North Carolina.