Grammy Award-winning violinist Joshua Bell's first holiday record is a star-studded affair. Highlights include the Rob Moose-arranged "Let It Snow," which commences as a Gypsy violin solo, then bursts into swing à la Stéphane Grappelli/Django Reinhardt as Bell duets with classical guitarist Julian Lage. Alison Krauss lends her voice to a stirring reading of "God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen," while Frankie Moreno's piano and vocal adorn the Great American Songbook era tune "I Want an Old-Fashioned Christmas," written by Fay Foster. Another instrumental highlight is the Jewish song "Baal Shem: Simhat Torah (Rejoicing)," performed as a trio with Steven Isserlis on cello and pianist Sam Haywood. The tune has been reimagined here; it was originally composed for violin and piano. "Christmas Confusion" is actually a radically revisioned medley that embodies four holiday favorites including "The Dreidel Song," "Hava Nagila," "Silent Night," and "Jingle Bells," with pianist Richard Hyung-ki Joo and violinist/arranger Aleksey Igudesman. Michael Feinstein's trademark vocals are featured in another Great American Songbook reading of "The Secret of Christmas," composed by Sammy Cahn and Jimmy Van Heusen. "A Christmas Auld Lang Syne" is given the Latin treatment by arranger Jorge Gomez, and a stellar performance by Gloria Estefan and Tiempo Libre. Chick Corea duets with Bell on "Greensleeves," while Branford Marsalis is heard with the violinist on the all-season hymn "Amazing Grace."
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AllMusic Review by Thom Jurek