On this CD, Russ Freeman, the popular multi-instrumentalist leader of the Rippingtons, performs 11 Christmas songs and his originals "Faith" and "Holiday." Freeman, who plays keyboards, guitar, bass, drums, percussion, and even mandolin on the date, leads a variety of musicians through funky jams and also takes a few of the more reverent interpretations by himself. With guest appearances from saxophonist Jeff Kashiwa, keyboardist Bob James, and a hot horn section (most notably on a salsafied version of "God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen"), Freeman clearly enjoyed this "holiday" from the Rippingtons. The overall results are lightweight, funky, melodic and reasonably pleasing as superior background music. Other highlights include "Hark the Herald Angels Sing," "My Favorite Things," and "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas."
by Scott Yanow