Crystal Lewis' first Christmas recording on the Metro One label is a beauty. Appropriately titled Holiday! A Collection of Christmas Classics, the Grammy-nominated and Dove Award-winning vocalist performs 12 jazz interpretations of seasonal favorites. Accompanied by Alan Pasqua on piano, Peter Erskine on drums, and Dave Carpenter on acoustic bass, Crystal Lewis' voice shines against the beautiful string orchestration conducted and arranged by Alan Pasqua. The lovely vocalist also co-arranged seven of the songs with Pasqua, including such favorites as "Joy to the World," "Go Tell It on the Mountain," and "Angels We Have Heard on High." Influenced by the inimitable Mahalia Jackson, Ella Fitzgerald, Billie Holiday, and Aretha Franklin, Lewis asserts her appreciation of their musical styles through a reflection of her own spiritual and sensory representations. Her soulful nuance, sensitive phrasings, and emotional treatment on these 12 songs act as a catalyst for the members of her ensemble and together they reach a creative evolution. One of the most beautiful moments on the CD is Alan Pasqua's piano solo on "O Holy Night," played in perfect balance with Lewis' engaging vocals. The sentiment and technique artfully balanced against the opulence of the string orchestra speak volumes about their freedom of personal expression within a self-defined program. Holiday music never sounded so good.
AllMusic Review by Paula Edelstein