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Dianne Reeves to Release Xmas Album

Vocalist Dianne Reeves releases her first-ever holiday CD, Christmas Time Is Here, on Blue Note Records on September 28. The 11-song collection features Reeves’ longtime trio of pianist Peter Martin, bassist Reuben Rogers and drummer Greg Hutchinson. Special guests include guitarist Romero Lubambo, saxophonist Steve Wilson, vibraphonist Joe Locke and the Sirius String Quartet.

Reeves has won the Grammy Award for “Best Jazz Vocal Album” for each of her past three records, (In The Moment-Live In Concert, The Calling: Celebrating Sarah Vaughan, and A Little Moonlight) making her the only singer in any genre to have achieved the consecutive “Best Album” trifecta.

“I love Christmas,” says Reeves, explaining her choice to record a Christmas disc. “I love being with my family during the holiday season, and yet I’m all too often performing out of town during that time of year. Last year Christmas was spent on a stage in Tokyo. This year, I decided I wanted to be in others hearts and homes, and at the same time-stay at home!”

For the new album Reeves gathered a songbook of familiar seasonal tunes like “Little Drummer Boy,” “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas,” “Let It Snow” and Mel Torme’s “The Christmas Song.” She also researched rarer tunes and included in this set “This Time of the Year” and “A Child Is Born.”

“We conjured the spirit of Christmas in the month of May,” says Reeves. “And the magic in the studio resulted in this album coming together in a breeze. We did many of the arrangements right there on the spot; the search for songs took longer than the recording itself.”

Many of the songs on Christmas Time Is Here are delivered with a warm, reflective sensibility. “That’s how I feel around the holidays,” says Reeves. “I love the big gray sky hovering outside my kitchen window. Inside, I’m cooking for about thirty people-which I love to do-listening to mellow music. It’s the perfect time to sit back, relax and float through songs.”

Reeves’ does renditions of Vince Guaraldi’s song “Christmas Time Is Here” and the holiday classic “I’ll Be Home for Christmas.” The latter is among Reeves’ favorites on the album. “So many of us won’t be home for Christmas,” she says. “While singing this song, I tried to convey the spirit and desire of being home, when you know you’re going to be away.”

Reeves also covers two Sammy Cahn-Jules Styne holiday gems: an upbeat and buoyant “Let It Snow” and a Brazilian grooved “Christmas Waltz” arranged by Romero Lubambo. “Romero changed it up, giving it a samba/ reggae feel,” explains Reeves, who notes that for her, this song now captures the epitome of holiday joy; and not coincidentally, it was also a family effort. “When we were recording it, we decided to add a little something extra. Romero came up with a wonderful Brazilian street melody in the arrangement and we added a choir with his wife and daughter helping out.”

Similarly, there was a new arrangement on a song Reeves heard on a Shawn Colvin holiday album, “Christ Child’s Lullaby,” and with the addition of the Sirius String Quartet, the result is a lullaby for the ages.

Christmas Time Is Here track list:

1. Little Drummer Boy

2. Carol of the Bells

3. Christmas Time Is Here

4. This Time of Year

5. Christmas Waltz

6. I’ll Be Home for Christmas

7. Christ Child’s Lullaby

8. A Child Is Born

9. The Christmas Song

10. Let it Snow

11. Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas

Originally Published