With a casual atmosphere that recalls long winter evenings at your favorite nightclub, David Leonhardt and his musical partners interpret this program of holiday favorites in the jazz tradition. The pianist brings a warm glow to each song. They're exciting, and yet Leonhardt manages to put more into each piece than is usually found this time of the year. He fashions each interpretation so that it stands out as an improvised work that the group can explore thoroughly. Together, they turn over clusters of brightness that come surrounded by a hearty rhythmic foundation.
With Jingle Bells, for example, the pianist turns loose a cannonade of keyboard attacks over a natural New Orleans shuffle rhythm. The trio makes this one fit the season with images of holiday cheer and outdoor fun. I'll Be Home for Christmas strikes a somber chord as Larry McKenna's tenor delivers the featured melody convincingly.
Nancy Reed is featured on five of the album's fifteen tracks with a proud voice that coats each of these traditional holiday favorites with jazz attire. She interprets lyrics convincingly and scat sings with authority. Not merely a vocal interpreter, Reed serves as a vital member of the group, adding her voice to the mix as a representative instrument from the jazz community.
David Leonhardt's recommended Christmas album provides adventurous interpretations of favorite holiday songs with a welcome jazz spirit that carries through the entire year.