Chuck Leavell

What's in That Bag?

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In blues-rock circles, Chuck Leavell was famed for his work with the Allman Brothers and the Rolling Stones, but he never cut a solo album to showcase his talents. When he began his solo career in 1998, he made an odd choice -- he decided to record a Christmas album, What's in That Bag?. Even though it isn't a choice many other musicians may have made, the resulting album is quite charming. His backing group of studio musicians, including the Muscle Shoals Horns and vocalist Lisa Fischer, is first-rate, and the album has a warm feel which suits the carols just right. Leavell throws in a couple of originals (including the great "Hey Santa") and newly written tunes to balance such standards as "Merry Christmas Baby," "Greensleeves," "Away in a Manger," "We Three Kings," "Joy to the World" and "God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen." It all makes for a pleasing, bluesy holiday album that happens to also confirm Leavell's great talents as a keyboardist.

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