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Christmas Fantasy
     

Christmas Fantasy

5.0 2
by Anita Baker
 
For her first holiday-themed release, R&B/jazz vocal vet Anita Baker takes a refreshingly non-boilerplate approach, rounding up a clutch of jazz vets (the Yellowjackets, George Duke, Larry Carlton) and cutting loose on a set of holiday classics delivered with intriguing new twists. With help from Gene Lobianco's clarinet, Baker infuses a childhood standard with a

Overview

For her first holiday-themed release, R&B/jazz vocal vet Anita Baker takes a refreshingly non-boilerplate approach, rounding up a clutch of jazz vets (the Yellowjackets, George Duke, Larry Carlton) and cutting loose on a set of holiday classics delivered with intriguing new twists. With help from Gene Lobianco's clarinet, Baker infuses a childhood standard with a Dixieland vibe on "Frosty's Rag (Frosty the Snowman)." The sultry vocalist does John Coltrane proud with a rendition of the Rodgers & Hammerstein standard "My Favorite Things" that swings with piano accompaniment by Joe Sample and Baker's scatting. Vince Guaraldi is also given his due with a take on his Charlie Brown classic, "Christmas Time Is Here," a delicate melding of Sample's light touch and Baker's breathy phrasing that's every bit as melancholy as the original. There's also a trio of Baker originals, notably "Moonlight Serenade," with its snappy interplay between Ricky Lawson's crackling timekeeping and Baker's bebop-flavored phrasing. Add Christmas Fantasy to the shortlist of essential holiday listening.

Editorial Reviews

All Music Guide - David Jeffries
Holiday titles live a bit outside an artist's standard discography, but if you look at Christmas Fantasy as a follow-up to the 2004 comeback My Everything, it continues that album's looser feel, less concerned with the charts and all the better because of it. There are only nine tracks on Anita Baker's Christmas Fantasy, but the album still clocks in at 45 minutes, with most tracks letting things comfortably develop past the five-minute mark. Part of the reason for this is the band. With George Duke, Larry Carlton, Joe Sample, the underrated Ricky Lawson, and other top-notch folk involved, it would be a shame not to let these boys play, but as much as they get to vamp, it's still Baker's album, 100 percent. Her increasing love of scat singing finds her interacting with the musicians in cool urbanite fashion, free but neither languid nor shamelessly bold. The exciting Crescent City take on "Frosty the Snowman," "Frosty's Rag," may be the standout track at first glance, but it's the cool interaction between singer and band on more subdued numbers like "O Come, All Ye Faithful" with the Yellowjackets and "Moonlight Sleighride" that makes the album worth returning to each holiday season. With its sparse, nearly haiku lyrics, "Moonlight Sleighride" is far and away the best of the three original numbers here, with "Family of Man" finishing second due to its mostly non-holiday lyrics that are clumsily tied to Christmas with a tacked-on final verse. A distant third, "Christmas Fantasy" feels too forced, but all is forgiven when Baker closes the album with an effervescent "My Favorite Things," putting her own spin on a song despite all the "definitive" versions that have come before. Kudos to Baker for avoiding anything sugary or diva and delivering on the promise she makes in the liner notes. "I wanted Mom & Dad to have a recording that we could listen to with a glass of wine after the kids were in bed," she states. Christmas Fantasy is not only that but more evidence Anita Baker's Career, Pt. 2 may be more sumptuous than Pt. 1.

Product Details

Release Date:
10/04/2005
Label:
Blue Note Records
UPC:
0094633217324
catalogNumber:
32173

Tracks

Album Credits

Performance Credits

Anita Baker   Primary Artist,Vocals
Larry Carlton   Guitar
George Duke   Piano
Joe Sample   Piano
Phil Upchurch   Guitar
Sharon Bryant   Background Vocals
Jimmy Haslip   Bass
Nathan East   Bass,Electric Bass,Acoustic Bass
Barry J. Eastmond   Keyboards,fender rhodes
Russell Ferrante   Piano
Reggie Hamilton   Acoustic Bass
Ricky Lawson   Drums
Timothy May   Guitar
Rafael Padilla   Percussion
Tiffany Palmer   Background Vocals
Marcus Baylor   Drums
Gene Lobianco   Clarinet
Carlos Ricketts   Background Vocals

Technical Credits

Anita Baker   Arranger,Producer,Liner Notes,Executive Producer,Vocal Arrangements,Audio Production
Vince Guaraldi   Composer
Joe Sample   Arranger
Richard Rodgers   Composer
Buck Ram   Composer
Barry J. Eastmond   Arranger,Producer,Engineer,Vocal Arrangements
Russell Ferrante   Arranger
Kim Gannon   Composer
Oscar Hammerstein   Composer
Walter Kent   Composer
Schmitt   Engineer
A. Baker   Composer
Traditional   Composer
Bill Airey Smith   Engineer
Gordon H. Jee   Art Direction

Customer Reviews

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Christmas Fantasy 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 2 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I love when Christmas rolls around, so to get in the &quot spirit&quot - I pull out all of my Christmas albums! Well, the only one I listen to now is Anita Baker's! It is a wonderful Christmas CD - it's jazzy, but not too slow! I love Christmas music in jazz form, this is a must-have for anyone for Christmas, even if you're not an Anita Baker fan!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago