Review by Brad Walseth
Wynton Marsalis has been quoted as saying the only time he and his brothers heard jazz on television while growing up was when the Charlie Brown holiday specials, featuring the music of Vince Guaraldi, came on. For many, the Christmas special is a personal favorite and I would venture to guess that there has been an entire generation who grew up associating the Christmas holiday with jazz music. New York City’s Trio West continues Guaraldi’s tradition with their recording, “Trio West Plays Holiday Songs,” in which they perform trio jazz versions of several holiday standards.
The Trio consists of drummer Tobias T. Gebb, pianist Eldad Zvulun and bassist Neal Miner, with bassist Miles Brown subbing for the much-in-demand Miner on three of the numbers. Much of the material mines a similar vein as the aforementioned Guaraldi, with his “Christmas Time is Here” making an appearance as well. But the Trio take some chances, adding significant drumplay to a most un-“Silent Night” and treating “God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen” as a tango.
If you are like me and find yourself weary of the barrage of pedestrian Christmas tunes during the season, you will probably appreciate the cool, jazzy Ahmad Jamal-like take Trio West puts on numbers like “O Tannenbaum,”“Winter Wonderland,” “The Christmas Song,” “Little Drummer Boy” and Frank Loesser’s “What Are You Doing New Year’s Eve.” Enjoyable, full of holiday spirit and perfect to trim the tree to.