Rahsaan Patterson

The Ultimate Gift

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As Christmas recordings go, The Ultimate Gift by Rahsaan Patterson is its own special animal, coming off more as a solid offering of new tracks with holiday themes than a holiday record by a great neo-soul singer. This date kicks it with solid, bright production, wonderful tunes, and Patterson in very inspired voice. Seven of these 11 cuts are originals co-written with Jamey Jaz (one of three co-producers with Patterson), though the wildly percussive and deeply funky "Christmas at My House" -- one of the best moments on this joint -- was co-written by no less than Van Hunt. There is only one traditional Christmas song on the set, which is -- thankfully -- an inoffensive and wildly innovative arrangement of "Little Drummer Boy," complete with serious breaks and slinky keys and guitars in the latter half. In addition, there is a reading of Paul McCartney's "Wonderful Christmastime" with a kickin' sax break by Derrick Edmonson. The version of the Motown classic "What Christmas Means to Me" is updated in the most ingenious and soulful way. It's light, snappy, and in the cut. The Patterson originals are all seamlessly fine, hip, and really joyful and warm. If you're looking for something new and soulful in your Christmas music, The Ultimate Gift lives up to its title.

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