Merry Christmas: Take One

Merry Christmas: Take One

by James Bazen


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Merry Christmas: Take One

With its service bands, the Washington, D.C., area offers a ready roster of highly skilled musicians to fill chairs of many big bands. Maryland-based multi-reed man James Bazen has put together one such aggregation and, for his second album, pays tribute to the holiday season. Many jazz artists sometime during their careers manage to issue a Christmas album. This album is not only a paean to that festive time of the year, but is an excellent session of big band music, ranging from sizzling, swinging renditions of such tunes as "Sleigh Ride" to a unique rendition of "Silent Night." The arrangement for the latter starts with appropriate piety as befitting the granddaddy of all Christmas hymns, before leaping into a swinging, funky performance. Strangely enough, the latter treatment doesn't seem out of place at all. And that's what strikes one immediately about this album, the fresh, joyous arrangements all brought to life by outstanding section work and superb solos. Jeff Gray's tenor and Leonard Stevens' guitar ride high on such tunes as "Silent Night." Vocalist Christina Crerar is on five cuts, with an especially nice offering of "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas," backed by Bazen's clarinet. The bari sax of Don Lerman works with Robert Wagner's bass and Larry Brown's piano on one of the most adventurous orchestrations of the traditional "O Christmas Tree" one will ever hear. The play list is not limited entirely to well-known holiday offerings. There is Vince Guaraldi's "Christmas Time Is Here" and a ten-minute exploration of a quasi-symphonic "The 'Spirit' of Christmas Present" showcasing the trumpet of Mike Davis, among others. Whether it's a big band that tickles your fancy, or the music of the holidays, this album will satisfy completely satisfy both needs.

Product Details

Release Date: 05/27/2003
Label: Cd Baby
UPC: 0791022168624
catalogNumber: 5637218136


  1. Sleigh Ride  -  James Bazen Big Band
  2. Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas  - Christina Crerar
  3. God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen  -  James Bazen Big Band
  4. White Christmas  - Christina Crerar
  5. Silent Night  -  James Bazen Big Band
  6. My Favorite Things  -  James Bazen Big Band
  7. Christmas Time Is Here  -  James Bazen Big Band
  8. O Christmas Tree  - Christina Crerar
  9. The Christmas Song  -  James Bazen Big Band
  10. Let It Snow! Let It Snow! Let It Snow!  - Christina Crerar
  11. Silver Bells  - Christina Crerar
  12. Jesus Loves Me  -  James Bazen Big Band
  13. The "Spirit' of Christmas Present  -  James Bazen Big Band

Album Credits

Performance Credits

James Bazen   Primary Artist,Clarinet,Soprano,Leader,Alto Saxophone
Hugh Johnson   Acoustic Bass
Doug Elliott   Trombone
Jeff Gray   Tenor Saxophone
Steve Larrence   Drums
Jerry O'Sullivan   Trombone
Bob Powers   Trombone
Chuck Schmidt   Trombone
Jeff Summers   Trumpet
Charlie Peterson   Trumpet
Patty McKay   Vocals
Bill Hill   Alto Saxophone
Robert Wagner   Acoustic Bass
Jesse Meman   Tenor Saxophone
Leonard Stevens   Guitar
Christina Crerar   Vocals
Larry Brown   Piano,Keyboards

Technical Credits

Roger Holmes   Arranger
Dave Wolpe   Arranger
Eric Lemley   Engineer
Paul Jennings   Arranger
James Bazen   Arranger,Producer

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