Tell Me The Story of Christmas, a richly heartfelt, soul-transcendent collaboration between former Tower of Power and current Santana vocalist Ray Greene and keyboardist/co-producer Dow Brain, is billed as “a jazz influenced holiday album” for obvious, swinging and improvisational reasons.
Yet what sets these 13 spirit expanding rays of musical light (10 classics, 3 vibrant originals) apart is the fact that traditional and contemporary urban jazz are just the foundations of a diverse collection that draws deeply from gospel traditions and, on the most stirring track (a globally re-imagined “Little Drummer Boy”), buoyant and exotic African drum and vocal energy fused with jazz piano improvisations.
For those previously unfamiliar with Greene’s multitude of talents, this is an insightful introduction to the magic he weaves on both moments of hushed, intimate grace (“Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas,” “The Christmas Song”) and more powerful vocal flights of fancy (“What Child Is This,” “Tell Me The Story of Christmas”).
Having previously collaborated, Greene and Brain create an effortless vocal-keyboard dynamic throughout the album, as the two frolic, play and penetrate the heart upon the tight grooves of upright bassist Kendall Eddy, drummer Scott Goulding and guitarist Jeff Lockhart. If your holidays need more soulful musical pep, look no further!
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