Let It Snow
New York Voices

What a year 2013 has been for the New York Voices. First came the release of their superb live in concert recording with the WDR Big Band Cologne, and now their long-in-formulation, much anticipated Christmas album to conclude the group's 25th anniversary year. The vocal quartet of Kim Nazarian, Lauren Kinhan, Darmon Meader, and Peter Eldridge have been adding Christmas tunes to their December concerts for many years, especially so during a 2005 holiday tour with the Boston Pops, and the end result is one of the best jazz-related Christmas CDs in many a year.

The New York Voices' close four-part harmony, exquisite and stirring, is heard here in both big band/studio orchestra settings and in more exposed and perhaps even more gratifying a cappella performances. Meader's contribution cannot be overestimated, for besides his polished singing there are his laudable arrangements and orchestrations of most of the 13 tracks, plus his impressive instrumental work on tenor, alto, soprano, and flute.

The other standout orchestrations include Don Sebesky's "Let It Snow," Pat Hollenbeck's "We Three Kings," and Jorge Calandrelli's "Christmas Song/Christmas Time," as well as an arrangement and orchestration of "O Come, All Ye Faithful" by Michele Weir.

Meader's memorable a cappella version of "Almost Like Being In Love" on the aforementioned Live with the WDR Big Band Cologne release, the only strictly vocal track on that disc, teased us for more of its kind, and the Voices offer three such Christmas presents to enjoy this time--"O Come, O Come, Emmamuel," "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas," and "Silent Night." Not to be missed also is "Holiday for Strings," adapted by Meader from the Jerry Gray arrangement for The Modernaires, the influential vocal group active from the '30's to the '60's.

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Scott Albin