The first Christmas album from the six-time Grammy nominee finds her beautifully backed by the John Brown Big Band on ten songs sure to put some swing into your holiday season.
Nnenna Freelon & John Brown Big Band -][- CHRISTMAS –Mp3– [Brown Boulevard, 2012]
Nnenna Freelon’s mother was a lover of Christmas – the story, the anticipation, the excitement, but most of all, the gathering of her family around her. In her passing, she left her daughter with a gift that has resulted in a dream fulfilled and a holiday album that will extend a mother’s love of Christmas to listeners everywhere.
Venerated jazz vocalist and six-time Grammy nominee Freelon had long wanted to record a holiday album, but couldn’t garner enough interest from her label. So she did what most people do in need of a little help, she turned to a loved one. With a small inheritance received from her mother, she approached John Brown, a long-time member of her musical family, director of Duke University’s jazz program and leader of John Brown’s Big Band. The two, who have shared the stage and collaborated often during their twenty-year friendship, have now joined together to release Christmas, a selection of holiday songs. Brown produced the album and will release it on his own label, Brown Boulevard.
For Freelon, Christmas has always been a time of church and family, “The secular and the sacred were all a part of the celebration. And I love that it’s the one holiday where singing is in the forefront. The music is part of the celebration and definitely one of the elements that make the holidays special. The songs bring up memories of family, childhood, traveling, good food – the parts of the season that warm the heart and the home.”
Her favorite holiday albums have always been big, brassy creations from artists like Ella Fitzgerald and Nat King Cole. She certainly could have created an album that mirrored the vibes of these Christmas classics, but that was not her artistic vision or her personal style. Freelon has built a career on looking at standards from a non-traditional point of view. And since no body of material has been covered more than holiday music, the songs proved to be the perfect setting to stretch Freelon and Brown’s abilities to explore new arrangements and present new takes on traditional songs.
The two artists made their lists of possible tracks independently (both of which she describes as “very, very long!”) then worked together to narrow them down. According to Freelon, deciding which songs to include was sort of like cooking a holiday meal, “You assemble everything, start throwing things together, and as a dish starts to take shape, you taste and see what it needs. You might take something out or put a little more in, until finally you come up with a combination that feels right.”
The final ten songs are an eclectic mix of classic and modern, secular and non-secular and one track that while never considered a holiday tune, has been creatively transformed into one.
If anything proves the spirit of Christmas lives in the heart with no regard for the month on the calendar or reading on the thermometer it is this – when Freelon, Brown and John Brown’s Big Band arrived at legendary music man Mitch Easter’s Fidelitorium Studios in Kernersville, NC, the state was experiencing its hottest summer on record. So with temperatures soaring, Freelon and the band began the work of conjuring a musical family Christmas in June. -[Excerpt | Album Notes | CDBaby]-
::: SOURCE: CDBaby.com :::