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Christmas With My Friends V

ACT 9830-2




  1. Morgenstern und Morgenlicht

  2. Let The Stars Come Out Tonight

  3. Joy To The World

  4. Baby It's Cold Outside

  5. Everyday Is Christmas

  6. Go Tell It On The Mountain

  7. Sleigh Ride

  8. O Heiland, reiß die Himmel auf

  9. Auld Lang Syne

  10. Love Is Born

  11. Gläns över sjö och strand

  12. Hosianna

  13. Härlig är jorden

  14. Seven Stains From Christmas Eve

  15. There Is No Rose

  16. Kokles Christmas

  17. Now The Time Is Here

  18. Bereden väg för Herren

    Nils Landgren - Trombone, vocals

    Jonas Knutsson - Saxophones

    Johan Norberg - Guitars, kantele

    Ida Sand - Vocals, piano, school organ

    Eva Kruse - Bass

    Sharon Dyall, Jeanette Köhn, Jessica Pilnäs - Vocals

    It seems odd to be reviewing a Christmas disc at any other time of year. Having said that, several CDs in this series, which was first launched in 2006, are still available to purchase. In addition, a box set of all five issued to date can be bought, too. This collection was released in time for Christmas 2016. The Swedish trombonist (and vocalist) Nils Landgren, who is the moving spirit behind this occasional Yuletide gathering of friends, takes the view that 'music is music' and so seeks to ensure that the boundaries are fluid between genres, on the recordings. Hymns, popular songs, light music, traditional airs, classical pieces and some new material are all to be found here, linked by the Christmas theme. The musicians are each accomplished jazz performers, while the vocalists range from the acclaimed opera singer, Jeanette Köhn to those such as Sharon Dyall, for me firmly in the Ella, Sarah and Dinah Washington tradition. Some of the music is performed relatively straight but there are satisfying jazz moments on offer, also.

    One of these is Everyday Is Christmas which features the aforementioned Sharon Dyall in fine voice plus a gutsy tenor sax solo from Jonas Knutsson. Ida Sand, meanwhile, sings the Christmas spiritual Go Tell It On The Mountain as well as playing piano and conveys an authentic gospel sound. She is aided and abetted by Landgren on trombone and by Knutsson in lusty form. Jessica Pilnäs and Landgren make an enticing vocal duo on Frank Loesser's Baby It's Cold Outside, bringing back memories of the great Sammy Davis Jnr and Carmen McRae partnership on the same number. There is assured guitar accompaniment here as well as more from Landgren's trombone. Sharon Dyall returns on Love Is Born, delivered in soul style. There's a reggae-beat to Hosianna where there is a vocal chorus rather than an individual singer. The intriguingly titled Seven Stains From Christmas Eve, a Norberg composition, proves to be a tour de force for the guitarist and Landgren. The latter can also be heard singing Let The Stars Come Out Tonight with Knutsson and Norberg as good as you would expect on their respective instruments.

    The pick of the rest, for me, would be the moving Ida Sand/Nils Landgren vocal duet on Auld Lang Syne, Johan Norberg providing a resonant guitar solo, and an excellent Ida Sand composition, Now The Time Is Here. Ida sings and plays on her own song, accompanied by a strong performance from Eva Kruse on bass. This is proper seasonal music, with meaningful lyrics. There is a further batch of mainly traditional Christmas items. There's a chance to hear a Finnish (or Karelian) string instrument known as the kantele, from time to time. On Härlig är jorden, Ida Sand actually plays what is described as a school organ! And even those who harden their hearts to classical music cannot fail to be impressed by the clear, powerful and expressive voice of Jeanette Köhn, evident on tracks such as Joy To The World or There Is No Rose. Incidentally, Köhn is listed as the featured singer on the final track. Actually, it sounds more like Sharon Dyall or Ida Sand to me.

    To those with catholic (in the sense of inclusive) Christmas musical tastes, there are listening pleasures in plenty here. Even to those who take their jazz neat there is much to tickle the taste-buds. Certainly, this CD will receive more than an occasional spin in our household during the festive season of 2017.

    James Poore

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