Various Artists

The Reasons for Christmas Project

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After the ridiculous hype and pretentious nature surrounding fundraising all-star albums like the infamous (and musically empty) We Are the World, many folks approach such releases with reservations. But The Reasons for Christmas Project emerged not from a big city on either coast, but Delaware Water Gap, Pennsylvania, a small town that is home to a number of jazz veterans along with other talent deserving of wider recognition. The proceeds from sales of this CD help to provide temporary housing and support services to homeless families with children. Bob Dorough, maybe in an attempt to make up for his depressing song "Blue Xmas," sings his very upbeat original "Wouldn't It Be Wonderful if Christmas Came" with a choir made up of local students backing him. Veteran alto saxophonist Phil Woods' jovial, brisk duet with pianist John Coates Jr. takes "White Christmas" down a brisk, bluesy path. Likewise, David Liebman and guitarist Vic Juris take a fresh look with their decidedly offbeat "Santa Claus Is Coming to Town." Pianist Jesse Green and singer Jerry Harris jointly composed the soulful "On Christmas Day." Pianist Eric Doney and singer Vicki Doney (his lovely wife) are joined by the Holy Mackeral Tabernacle Choir (hee hee!) and guest soloist Phil Woods for the toe-tapping "Let's Make Each Day Like Christmas." Woods' "Gifts for the Children" (which was composed a number of years earlier) features Spencer and Nancy Reed. Bobby Syvarth's "An Extra Prayer" is a virtual melting pot of different musical styles. And the freewheeling arrangement of "Good King Wenceslas" by the Gaptime Ensemble is not to be overlooked. It's hard not to have a smile on your face by the time you're through listening to this joyful disc.

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