When Greg Vail's little girl Vanessa giggles "Daddy, Is it Christmas yet?", all you parents will smile, recognizing that childish anticipation of the holidays that still lives in all of us.
This is how sax man Vail opens his second holiday album, Is It Christmas Yet? (his first holiday album, Christmas, The Hymns, is also reviewed here). Both are instrumentals, but in my view, this 2004 release differs from the earlier album in at least four important respects.
First, the song emphasis here is more on contemporary holiday tunes (like "Winter Wonderland"), rather than on ancient carols. Second, Vail's sax seems more at center stage in this recording, and he really makes it smoke. Third, Christmas, The Hymns featured keyboardist extraordinaire Rob Mullins, and that colored the CD's presentation to a fairly large extent. Finally, Is It Christmas Yet? is the genuine jazz article; it is traditional jazz played in the "old school" way. This definitely is NOT adult contemporary pop or funk or anything other than straight-up jazz.
Backed by an excellent combo, Vail pulls out all the stops, and his sax really wails. I particularly loved his relatively slow, highly textured, and very emotive, "Santa Claus Is Coming To Town." In contrast, "The Little Drummer Boy" is a runaway freight train, all speed and splash. The string bass is really special as Vail takes the lead on "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas" (one of my favorite renditions ever.) To be honest, it's all good here. Even little Vanessa Vail's way-too-cute vocals on "Silent Night" (under a minute!) work. "Winter Wonderland" is an excellent closer and personifies "cool."
Is jazz your thing? Greg Vail's exciting Is It Christmas Yet? is an outstanding holiday option for your audio system. Give it a spin!
Carol is a regular writer and reviewer for ChristmasReviews.com.
Click the link for hundreds of Christmas CD Reviews and enjoy this Holiday Season!!
For Carol Swanson's Review of Greg Vail's 'Christmas The Hymns' CD Review click here.
Christmas Jazz Reviews
Review by TJ
"Is It Christmas Yet?" which was recorded live in the sanctuary at Saddleback Church is now available, and it is awesome - you should totally check it out!
With a blend of smooth jazz and old school jazz Greg Vail really brings traditional Christmas music to life and his new CD will appeal to every type of jazz fan out there. The arrangements are incredible and the musicianship on the album is amazing - the contrasting styles on the album (ie. bossa nova, swing, etc.) truly represents jazz at its finest.
Not to mention 5-year-old Vanessa Vail, the cutest and most wonderful little girl, is featured vocally with the famous line "Daddy, is it Christmas yet?" that every parent hears near Christmas each year as well as singing the hymn "Silent Night" on one of the tracks.
$15.00 at CD Baby
iTunes Review by rickalv
Convincingly this CD is what Greg Vail is all about; live musicians playing in a live room feeding off one another. I have most of Greg’s CDs and they do serve as great cuts for a dinner party, wedding, funeral, etc…
I can actually get into this recording because of the earthy tones, great sonic qualities and real musicians that live and breathe this style of music.
This record was recorded in 8 hours and mixed and mastered in 16 hours. That is what I liked about the record. It has a few mistakes and it is believable! The way it was done years ago.
Way to go Greg and I hope this is not the last of the records that you cut with living musicians living week to week on hope and faith that their work keeps real music alive and kicking!
Testimonial from SmoothJazz.com
I added 3 songs to SJ.com and to our Xmas Stream: Santa Claus Is Coming To Town, Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas and Winter Wonderland. Good stuff. We’ll try to get it up on the downloads this weekend. Early next week at the latest. Sandy Shore - President - SmoothJazz.com
Testimonial from WhiteLight Productions
Greg: So much luck on this XMAS project. I really enjoyed it and will be listening through the holidays. I especially loved the ballads because I love my XMAS music very traditional. It's great work, wonderful playing, and your daughter's version of Silent Night is absolutely priceless.
Love You tons,
Testimonial from Alan Remington - Orange Coast College, Commercial Music Professor, Retired
Greg: It was pure joy seeing you and hearing you play.
Your album has originality, personality and conviviality in each song. The performances are just plain fine on all instruments! Alan
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$15.00 at CD Baby
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