Christopher Ho

Ho Ho Ho: Christmas Jam

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Chris Ho and his band have gotten together to celebrate the Christmas season with an album of originals, mostly by Ho, plus some traditional carols to add seasoning to this holiday musical punch. Ho has augmented his band with a gaggle of artists who make contributions on various tracks. This smooth jazz practitioner employs the usual forms associated with this jazz style. In addition to heavy use of electrically enhanced instruments, there's the steady outpouring of notes and measures with no pauses or space allowed. This creates considerable pressure to keep from getting boring or coming too close to elevator music, a trap practitioners of this genre often fall into. Ho avoids getting snared with some finger-snapping, toe-tapping melodies. His dancing piano sets the pace for an up-tempo improvisational approach to the traditional "Angels We Have Heard on High." The whole gang gets into the act on this one, especially the flighty trumpet of Chris Tedesco. The Ho-composed "Holiday Romance," another swinging tune, is embellished by the Chaka Khan-like vocalizing of Patti Henley, the presence of king of the smooth jazz flute, Hubert Laws, and the upscale saxophone of Wayne Wayne. "Christmas in June" is done by siblings Patti Henley and Robert Henley in Motown manner. But except for those tunes where there is a vocal, it is hard to discern how the original material relates to Christmas. They certainly don't fit into the traditional carol mold and could be on any smooth jazz release with just about any topic or event as its theme. There's some very nice music here, and if you don't worry about whether it fits into a topical category, it should be perfectly suitable to be played any time of the year, not just at Yule time.

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