Laura Dickinson 17: Auld Lang Syne (Music & Mirror Records)
Auld Lang Syne finds the veteran Los Angeles studio singer leading a big band and applying her power to seasonal songs. The fullness and accuracy of her high range is impressive throughout the album, nowhere more than in the beloved Robert Burns title song. On that track and elsewhere she harmonizes to great effect with a second female voice, presumably her own. Trumpeter Kye Palmer, pianist Alan Steinberger and guitarist Andrew Synoweic get credit for some of the collection’s fine instrumental solo work. Other soloists go uncredited. Dickinson gives Irving Berlin’s 1953 “Love, You Didn’t Do Right By Me” what may be its most robust version since Rosemary Clooney debuted the song in the 1954 film White Christmas. “Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas” is notable for Dickinson’s touching restraint, pianist Steinberger’s harmonies in the accompaniment, and their negotiation of a demanding key change.
David Ian: Vintage Christmas (Prescott Records)
The Canadian pianist and his trio impart a light touch to a collection that encompasses classics from “Good King Wenceslas” to “Oh Come All Ye Faithful. Bassist John Estes and drummer Josh Hunt blend nicely with Ian as he caresses one familiar Christmas tune after another. Hunt’s work with brushes is firm without intrusiveness, and Estes solos with conviction, notably so on the opening “Deck The Halls.” My impression from the package and Prescott’s website publicity is that Ian has considerably expanded the amount of music in this charming album since its original issue a year or so ago.
Jake Ehrenreich, with the Roger Kellaway Trio, A Treausury of Jewish Christmas Songs (Ehrenreich)
It may not have occurred to you that Jews wrote many of your favorite Christmas songs. It occurred to Jake Ehrenreich. His album glories in what they created. The parents who raised Ehrenreich in Brooklyn were holocaust survivors. He grew up to be a performer on Broadway and the author of a best selling book, <em>A Jew Grows In Brooklyn</em>. The songs he gathered are by Irving Berlin, Julie Styne, Johnny Mandel, Mel Tormé and others of Jewish heritage. Not to mention Vince Guaraldi (wait a minute, how’d that San Francisco Italian get in there? Oh, right; he wrote “Christmas Time Is Here”.) Ehrenreich’s voice has a veiled quality not unlike Tony Bennett’s. He sings with great enthusiasm and only now and then a hint of a Brooklyn accent. His accompanists are pianist Roger Kellaway, guitarist Bruce Forman, bassist Dan Lutz—the Roger Kellaway Trio—with additional percussion by Kevin Winard.