Who better to ring in Christmas with than one of the greatest contemporary gospel groups in the world? Kirk Whalum (whose soprano sax weaves in and around a lively vocal improvisation on "Let It Snow") has said that, as a faithful Christian, he won't do a holiday album because every secular musician has done one for commercial purposes. Fortunately, the sixsome combine their amazingly strong witness with joyous arrangements of classics on their second Christmas disc--perfect for religious and secular celebrations. As with all their mostly a cappella recordings, the uniqueness of the Take 6 sound lies in their vocal arrangements. You almost feel you need three speakers to capture all the diverse activity of a brief but unforgettable combo of "We Wish You A Merry Christmas" and "Carol of the Bells." The first segues into the second, then comes back so that two voices are singing "Wish," two are singing "Carol" and two are intertwining other verses of "Wish" all in a colorful swirl. In addition to the Whalum solo, "Let It Snow" features a rhythm groove provided by nonstop finger snapping. And--rare for a reverent gospel group--they vocally improvise a cool Southern porchswing setting before delving into a rousing version of "Go Tell It On The Mountain." Towards the end of the piece, the texturing of the underscoring "Hallelujahs" is so remarkable that it requires an extra credit--"Vocal Editing: John Lawry." It's amazing how many Christmas albums come out every year with the same familiar tunes on them, and how few add anything new to the culture. The great blessing is that Take 6 gives back to God and their fans with a unique flair that bears repeated listening.
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AllMusic Review by Jonathan Widran
feat: Kevin Whalum