In late 2014 jazz singer Thisbe Vos recorded her first Christmas album, "A Jazzy Christmas", through crowd-funding, and made the CD available to those who contributed to the album. Being a big supporter of worthy crowd-funded projects, I signed up as a backer and received her CD fairly late in the holiday season, too late to give it much attention here, although it did make my Top 5 list, posted after Christmas. As "A Jazzy Christmas" is such a magnificent record, I decided to kick off this year's Christmas posts with a full review.
Thisbe Vos is a Netherlands-born jazz singer now residing in the Los Angeles area, appearing frequently with her band in and around LA. Prior to recording her Christmas record last year, she had released two jazz albums, "Sophistication" and "Under Your Spell", both excellent collections of standards and self-penned songs.
"A Jazzy Christmas" continues in this vein, featuring seven classic Christmas tunes, reinterpreted by Thisbe and her outstanding band, and three new songs written by Thisbe plus one, "Christmas is Everywhere", co-written by Thisbe and collaborator Gary Matsumoto.
The album kicks off with a rollicking rendition of "Let Snow", a superb, upbeat beginning to a great album. Thisbe's vocals immediately grab your attention and don't let go. (For any fans of NBC's "The Voice", it's just like those moments when a coach hits their button after about 3 seconds into the performance).
Traditionals "The Christmas Song", "Baby It's Cold Outside", and the inestimable "Jingle Bells" become gold standards of jazz Christmas vocal performances. Even "Santa Baby", usually not one of my personal faves, is a great listen. The album closer, a slowed-down, sultry, waltzy version of the usually lively "Deck the Halls" is a simply wonderful interpretation of the Christmas classic, with Thisbe's vocals offset and complemented by an outstanding tenor sax.
The true highlights of "A Jazzy Christmas" are Thisbe's original compositions. "It Must Be Christmas Time", "It's Beginning to Snow", "When Moonlight Has Hit the Town", and "Christmas is Everywhere" hit the mark by not only being exceptional vocal and instrumental jazz performances, but they sound like Christmas standards. You know, sometimes an artist's original compositions just don't hit the "Christmas" mark and don't blend so well with the traditionals, well, that's not the case here. Thisbe's four originals flow and fit alongside the standards and help flesh out a truly notable and refreshing Christmas jazz record. They sound like you've been hearing them for years.
Thisbe's vocal performance on this record is just wonderful. Her phrasing will make you melt, her pitch is amazingly natural and effortless. It's just aural honey flowing over and through you as you listen. There's a bit of Jane Monheit here in terms of jazz style, but mostly it's completely original. When I got this CD last year, I just kept playing and playing it. High praise, since it was competing with a Santa's sack-full of competition for playtime :-)
"A Jazzy Christmas" is due for release this year on November 6th on Amazon, CD Baby, and iTunes. If you can wait until November 20th you can get a signed copy directly from Thisbe's website.
This was one of the best new records I heard last year. Especially if you're a jazz lover, "A Jazzy Christmas" gets my highest recommendation.
By the way, "Sophistication" and "Under Your Spell" are excellent as well for, you know, those few times when you're not listening to Christmas Music :-)
Thisbe Vos website
Thisbe Vos Facebook page