Every Friday night we smooth our way into the weekend with music, the universal language. These selections demonstrate that despite what is being passed off as art today, there is plenty of really good music available. Come along and enjoy.
It’s tradition on this blog feature on the Friday after Thanksgiving we highlight new Christmas releases. And we have some beauties again this year.
Let’s get started.
This is an unlikely duet. Dion, he of “Runaround Sue” and “The Wanderer” fame, teams up with country and Christian star Amy Grant in what is the quintessential Christmas song for 2020.
“I was talking with a friend about how the world this year can use a little life-giving love and harmony,” said Dion.
“I told him that Christmas was the grace that changed my life and that I was looking forward to a shot of that this year. The next day, I got together with [co-writer] Mike [Aquilina] and I picked up the guitar, started singing and words started to flow. Later I was walking with my buddy [and co-writer] Steve Bottari and he started singing along — with some new words. The song just seemed to write itself, a gift to finish off this challenging year. From the start I heard Amy Grant’s voice on it; she just sounds like Christmas to me. I sent the track to her and she fell in love with it and added a beautiful counter-melody which makes it really sublime.”
Dion also released another yuletide-themed tune last Friday, November 20, a blues-flavored song called “You Know It’s Christmas,” featuring lead guitar by blues rock guitarist Joe Bonamassa.
Christmas Rat Pack-style is next with the Doug Hume Orchestra and Bob Francis doing a spot-on Sinatra. Dig these cool cat lyrics.
Of course Las Vegas is no different than any other holiday destination in 2020. This week Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak announced new restrictions, including the reduction of capacity down to 25% in casinos, bars, restaurants, museums, art galleries and other businesses and facilities, and the reduction of maximum capacity in showrooms and theaters from 250 to 50.
Saxophonist Marion Meadows has been performing for 30 years but has finally released his first Christmas album. Listen for the just the right amount of R&B, soul, and jazz.
In October PBS broadcast a Ken Burns documentary, “driving While Black.” meadows played on the soundtrack.
“Canada’s Prince of Piano” – that’s how the Beijing Times, China’s leading English-language newspaper, described Canadian pianist and composer Martin Mayer.
This classic was arranged by Emmy-winning musician John Tesh and Grammy-winning violinist Charlie Bisharat. It will remind you of David Foster’s booming version you often hear on the radio this time of year.
Canada’s National Post predicts that Mayer is “Poised to take over the world stage.”
How about another duet? You know. A twosome.
“People will find this surprising; they might not even like it. It might not be as sexy, but it’s the truth,” said Dolly Parton. “I wrote this while I was cuddling up and cozying down with one of my little nieces and nephews, just thinking about mothers and their babies.”
Nice, but Parton admits her new song needed something more romantic.
“And I cuddled up with Michael Buble on this one! And he did a great job on it. So, it made it sexy. I can only fantasize, cuddlin’ up and cozying down with him.”
Back in April Parton made a $1 million donation to Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville, Tennessee to help fund the early stages of research for a coronavirus vaccine developed by the pharmaceutical company Moderna. Thus far, the research looks very promising.
Our next selection is very exciting, done in a style you’ve never heard before on a Christmas classic.
The artist is Warren Wolf, a multi-instrumentalist from Baltimore. His lengthy, impressive resume started at the age of 3 when he was trained on the Vibraphone/Marimba, Drums, and Piano. Wolf studied classical composers like Bach, Beethoven, Mozart, Paganini, Brahms, Vivaldi and Shostakovich. In jazz he paid close attention to Charlie Parker, Miles Davis, Duke Ellington, Louis Armstrong, Freddie Hubbard, Clifford Brown, Herbie Hancock, Oscar Peterson, Weather Report, Wynton Marsalis and many others.
You’d swear the opening on this track is “Jingle Bells” and you’d be correct because it is. But then it quickly segues into something else.
That’s it for this week.
More Christmas music next Friday.
Have a great weekend.
We close with saxophonist Dave Koz and guitarist Jonathan Butler who answer the musical question, “What’s going on out there?”