Everyone knows how great musicians can provide a powerful platform for talented singers. On Telarc's Christmas Songs with the Ray Brown Trio, the legendary bassist-leader's familiar trio setting (with some terrific help from tenor saxophonist Ralph Moore and guitarist Russell Malone) gives jazz's most talented vocalists a chance to strut their stuff on a new Christmas collection of holiday favorites.
Ray Brown's arrangements here are nothing short of sensational. A familiar name in every jazz household, this legendary bass player has been making music for more than 50 years. Highlights include a syncopated, gospel-infused version of "Away in a Manger" from Grammy winner Dee Dee Bridgewater and a warm, classic rendition of "The Christmas Song" by Kevin Mahogany. Diana Krall brings out the blues in "Santa Claus Is Coming to Town," and there's a down-home version of "It Came Upon a Midnight Clear" from Etta Jones. New Telarc signing Vanessa Rubin, whom Ray added specifically for this session, displays her vocal talents on the ballad "White Christmas."
Ray has worked successfully with jazz vocalists before, releasing Some of My Best Friends Are Singers (CD-83441) in 1988, the latest in his acclaimed Some of My Best Friends Are… series. And while Brown has participated in many holiday recordings as a sideman, he had never led a Christmas session himself. Christmas Songs with the Ray Brown Trio presented him with the perfect opportunity.