Tag Archives: tunes

Dianne Reeves swings holiday favorites in concert

As a child, jazz singer Dianne Reeves always loved the music of Christmas. If she had a favorite, it might have been Nat “King” Cole’s version of “The Christmas Song,” the seasonal ode to “chestnuts roasting on an open fire” penned by Mel Torme.

“They were both jazz artists,” remembers Reeves. “I love all the Christmas songs, but I especially loved hearing that one.”

Fans of both jazz and Christmas can get an earful of Reeves’ holiday favorites twice this month when the Grammy Award-winning artist celebrates the season in Wisconsin. Reeves and her quartet will perform a stockingfull of holiday and jazz favorites Dec. 11 at UW-Madison’s Wisconsin Union Theater and again on Dec. 12 at the Sharon Lynne Wilson Center for the Arts in Brookfield.

Reeves will perform both engagements with her quartet of “co-creators,” as she calls them, featuring pianist Peter Martin, guitarist Romero Lubambo, bassist Reginald Veal and drummer Terreon Gully.

Both shows will draw heavily on her 2004 CD Christmas Time is Here, whose titular tune, familiar to fans of the 1965 animated program A Charlie Brown Christmas, was written by pianist Vince Guaraldi, another jazz artist. The frequent intersection of jazz and holiday music does not at all surprise the 59-year-old singer.

“Jazz musicians have always taken Christmas standards and given them a jazz sensibility,” Reeves says. “I love that you can swing a Christmas carol.”

Reeves will no doubt swing her own version of “The Christmas Song,” “Little Drummer Boy,” “Carol of the Bells” and other holiday favorites. It’s a playlist she always looks forward to performing.

“This is the only time of year I get to do Christmas songs,” she says. “It’s a real treat for me.”

Reeves, born in Detroit and raised in Denver, grew up in a musical household in which holiday songs and other tunes were bandied about almost as a part of the conversation. Her father, who died when she was 2 years old, was a singer, and her mother, Vada Swanson, played the trumpet. George Duke, Reeves’ cousin, was a jazz pianist and record producer, and her uncle Charles Burrell played the bass in the Denver Symphony Orchestra.

Burrell also introduced a young Reeves to jazz singers Ella Fitzgerald, Billie Holiday and Sarah Vaughan. All three inspired the future five-time Grammy-winner to pursue a career in jazz.

Jazz as a discipline is distinctly American in its roots, but with many alternating branches. From ragtime to big band, bebop to post-bop to fusion and even acid jazz, the genre has many voices that, at their extremes, don’t even come close to sounding alike. But there is a common thread, Reeves says.

“It’s improvisation,” she explains. “The music is living, it’s a conversation just like the one we’re having now, and what we’re saying will never be said in the same way again.”

Reeves has had many such conversations in the course of her career, having toured with Harry Belafonte, Sergio Mendes, Eduardo del Barrio and Billy Childs before striking out on her own.

Over time, Reeves also has become a composer and producer and is the only singer to win three consecutive Grammys for Best Jazz Vocal Performance — most recently for Beautiful Life in 2015.

“Music is an intellectual and emotional balance,” Reeves says. “The intellectual part is what I learned in school, but what draws people is the artist’s own interpretation of the music. At the end of the day, people relate not only to what you’re saying musically, but how you’re saying it.”

Jazz is once again enjoying an upswing in popularity, particularly among young artists who find the music’s improvisational element appealing, Reeves says. It also has a great capacity to bring people and artists from different countries and cultures together to communicate with a single musical voice.

“Jazz is far-reaching,” Reeves says. “It attracts you because there is fellowship to it. It’s interesting to young people because it gives them the chance to have their own voice.”

Jazz is still a niche market compared to other more broadly popular genres of music, but its star is once again on the rise. Blend it with holiday favorites, Reeves says, it just may open up a few more minds to the music’s outstanding possibilities.

“Jazz may not make you rich, but it really feeds your soul,” she adds.


Singer Dianne Reeves and her quartet will perform two evenings of Christmas and jazz favorites this month. On Dec. 11, she is appearing at the Wisconsin Union Theater, 800 Langdon St., Madison, and, on Dec. 12, she will perform at the Wilson Center, 19805 W. Capitol Drive, Brookfield. Tickets are $10-$45 in Madison and $42-$73 in Brookfield. Visit uniontheater.wisc.edu or wilson-center.com for more details. 

Colombian band mystified by making president’s Spotify playlist

The members of the little-known Colombian salsa band are clueless as to how an obscure song they recorded more than a decade ago landed on a Spotify playlist curated by President Barack Obama.

The track, “La salsa la traigo yo,” by Sonora Carruseles, is one of 40 songs featured on two #POTUSPlaylists on the popular music streaming service. The lists also include music by Bob Dylan, Bob Marley, Coldplay, Frank Sinatra, Beyonce, Justin Timberlake, Stevie Wonder, Aretha Franklin and Spanish singer Mala Rodriguez.

“For us, it’s an honor that an influential person such as the U.S. president is enjoying and having fun in his free time with the Colombian salsa of Sonora Carruseles,” band member Daniel Marmolejo said. 

Band members were surprised when they heard the news — so surprised, in fact, that they thought it was a joke, Marmolejo said.

The biggest surprise: The song was one the band had virtually forgotten.

“We haven’t played this song in a long time, and we even removed it from our repertoire to squeeze in our new material,” said Marmolejo, adding that it’s back in rotation now.

The White House said it was unable to supply explanations for how individual items got on the playlist, though aides stressed Obama picked out the tunes himself and in general discovers music as most other people do — from friends, family, movies, musicians and elsewhere.

Founded in Medellin, Colombia, in 1995, Sonora Carruseles released its first album in 2001. In 2005, the band members moved to Miami to make touring easier. To date, they’ve released 14 albums.

The 12-member band hopes that being included on the playlist is its lucky break.

“Now everything has changed. In these few days, more people know about us, they want to know who we are, where we come from and to learn more about our music. For us, it is very important that Obama has put us on the map,” said Leonardo Sierra, one of the band’s members.

“Our country hardly knows about us and that saddens us,” Marmolejo added. “But I think that this is a great opportunity for us to cross cultural and musical boundaries.”

Music reviews: | Death Cab for Cutie, Sufjan Stevens, Rhiannon Giddens

Sufjan Stevens :: ‘Carrie & Lowell’

Not familiar with Sufjan Stevens yet? Start your exploration with “Carrie & Lowell.” Arguably the most powerful record released thus far in 2015, the album explores the singer-songwriter’s grief and reflection following the death of his mother Carrie in 2012. Their relationship was difficult and complex at best, but that makes the album all the more startling and engaging. Recorded at Stevens’ home studio and released on his independent label Asthmatic Kitty (run by Stevens’ stepfather Lowell Brams) the album is sparce, even ghostly at times, with lyrics that are simply unforgettable. There is harrowing anger and shame here, but also plenty of love. “Carrie & Lowell” is an album to cherish.

Death Cab for Cutie :: ‘Kintsugi’

“Kintsugi” is a Japanese art form in which broken pottery is repaired with lacquer, making the cracks a part of the work. It’s also a fitting title for Death Cab for Cutie’s eighth album. Since the last release in 2011, founder Ben Gibbard divorced Zooey Deschanel and original guitarist Chris Walla has exited the band. “Kintsugi” embraces those signs of breakage, translating them into warmth and affecting emotion — most notably on opening song “No Room In Frame,” a gently galloping breakup song that slowly works its way into your heart, and the strong lead single “Black Sun.” But “Kintsugi” gets more disjointed as the album wanders on, shifting tones and tempos as if they’re off their groove and trying to find their way back. “Kintsugi” isn’t a bad album, and it’s a good transition, but it’s no “Transatlanticism.”

Rhiannon Giddens :: ‘Tomorrow Is My Turn’

Rhiannon Giddens has already been successful with old-time string band Carolina Chocolate Drops and on the New Basement Tapes project, recording a previously lost trove of Dylan lyrics with the likes of Elvis Costello and Marcus Mumford. She steps into the spotlight on “Tomorrow Is My Turn,” covering female artists like Dolly Parton, Patsy Cline and Nina Simone. She is at her strongest delivering the arresting field holler of “Waterboy,” a version of “Black is the Color” that sounds like contemporary hip hop, and with a mournful fiddle on “O Love Is Teasin’,” previously associated with “Mother of Folk” Jean Ritchie’s dulcimer. Giddens is proof American roots music is safe with a new generation.

Boz Scaggs :: ‘A Fool To Care’

Pop fans over 40 are likely familiar with Boz Scaggs’ late ‘70s classics “Low Down” and “Lido Shuffle.” Many are not aware that he is still recording, and his blue-eyed soul is as engaging as ever. “A Fool To Care” follows his well-received 2013 album of covers, “Memphis.” This copies the same format, with songs by Al Green, the Spinners and Curtis Mayfield included among the 12 tracks. It’s easy to sit back and relax with this album, enjoying the gentle grooves, Boz Scaggs’ tastefully spare guitar work and his timeless vocals.

New music: Meghan Trainor, Mark Ronson, Jukebox the Ghost

Meghan Trainor :: ‘Title’

With her major label debut Title, Meghan Trainor proves “All About That Bass” was no fluke. If you’re familiar with the chart-topping single, you already know the 21-year-old singer-songwriter is inspired by doo-wop and ’60s girl groups. Title mixes that inspiration with contemporary lyrics about female empowerment. Not everything works well, most notably Trainor’s stab at funk: “Bang Dem Sticks.” But follow-up single “Lips Are Movin’” and the self-deprecatingly humorous “Walkashame” more than make up for the low moments. Other standouts include the charmingly wistful “3 AM” and “Like I’m Gonna Lose You,” with John Legend. Kudos to Epic Records for moving Trainor from the songwriters’ bench to the spotlight.

Mark Ronson :: ‘Uptown Special’

Though well-respected for his work with Amy Winehouse, British producer and artist Mark Ronson has not gained the appreciation his main work deserves stateside. Uptown Special should make him a household name. Much of the album slides into the groove mined by “Uptown Funk!,” with lead vocals by Bruno Mars. Three tracks go to vocalist Kevin Parker of Australia’s Tame Impala, while Andrew Wyatt of the Swedish pop group Miike Snow gets three of his own. And on “Feel Right,” rapper Mystikal delivers a blistering James Brown-inspired vocal. Uptown Special is a January gem that will appeal to serious audiophiles and mainstream pop fans alike.

Jukebox the Ghost :: ‘Jukebox the Ghost’

The quirky, clever, self-deprecating line, “I should have known right from the start that we were made for ending,” says a lot of what you need to know about Jukebox the Ghost. The pop rock band’s self-titled fourth album is packed full of memorable, piano-driven melodies and lyrics that are wise, funny and occasionally a bit sad. The melodies sink in quickly, only to let go when the next track unleashes its equally catchy chorus. Occasionally the band reaches for more anthemic territory — for instance, on “The Great Unknown,” or “When the Nights Get Long,” a catchy track reminiscent of Bastille. But generally Jukebox the Ghost doesn’t reach for the grand, charmingly remaining down to earth instead. 

The Soil & the Sun :: ‘Meridian’

Lead vocalist and guitarist Alex McGrath formed The Soil & the Sun with his wife Ashley in 2008, and the Grand Rapids, Michigan, group has since grown into a seven-member collective. There is something irresistibly gorgeous about Meridian, their debut LP. Its members accurately describe their sound as “experiential, orchestral, spiritual rock.” Lush vocals envelop the listener like lapping waves. Intricate percussion provides a base for dense string, guitar and oboe instrumentation. It’s an album you can get lost in, and a harbinger of a bright future. Catch the group live at Turner Hall on Jan. 21.

Tony Bennett: Truth and beauty are his game

In 1979, with no recording contract, few concerts, a failed second marriage and the IRS on his heels, Tony Bennett nearly died from a cocaine overdose.  The former top crooner, whose iconic 1962 hit “I Left My Heart in San Francisco” made him a household name, had lost touch with contemporary audiences and lost his way in the changing music scene.

Bennett reached out to sons Danny and Dae, who helped turn his faltering career around and found a way for him to appeal to younger audiences without changing his charismatic musical style. Many new fans had never heard his music before, but they appreciated his enormous talent. Bennett’s star began once again to ascend, and it now shines as brightly once more.

At 87, Bennett is a marvel, as energetic and as strong of voice as ever. He’ll demonstrate his talents June 6 at Milwaukee’s Riverside Theatre. 

Bennett’s also at a point where he can reflect on his life and acknowledge the influences that shaped him and his career.

You’ve managed to transcend style and fashion to create an enduring career. What are the key elements that define Tony Bennett the artist and performer?  I grew up during the Depression …. and every Sunday (my extended family) would come to our house and we would have a big meal. Then all my relatives would sit around in a circle and my brother, sister and I would entertain them. The love and encouragement that I got from my family at that time in my life was so supportive that I knew back then that I wanted to be a performer, and that this was what I am. For the time I am on stage, if the audience can just … forget about their daily problems and concerns and walk away in a good mood, then that makes me feel terrific. I consider it an honorable profession. 

Is there a single song that best encapsulates your career and contributions to the music industry? Wow, that is truly impossible for me to pinpoint. But I can tell you that, for me, I like to communicate truth and beauty in what I do. That’s my game.

What do you look for in choosing material?  Well, when I got home after being a foot soldier in WWII, I was fortunate enough to study at the American Theatre Wing under the GI Bill. The most important lessons that my teachers taught me …  was to do only quality material, never play down to an audience.  For me, there was a golden era of master craftsmen among songwriters in the 1920s, ’30s and ’40s that make up what’s called the Great American Songbook. I gravitate to the music of Cole Porter, the Gershwins, Duke Ellington, Harry Warren and Irving Berlin.

What is essential for me in choosing a song is being able to connect with what the songwriter is trying to convey. If it generates an emotion or feeling that leads me to say, “Yes, I understand that. I have felt that way,” then I know that I can connect with the audience when I sing it.  

You’ve created a second career as an artist. Tell me about that. I have always had a passion to sing and paint and have been drawing and sketching my whole life. It was actually Duke Ellington who inspired me to take painting more seriously. He told me it was always better to be creative in two things rather than just one. That way if you burned out doing one art form, you could switch to the other form for awhile, but either you way you always stay in a creative zone.  

Artistically, I like to focus on nature since it never disappoints, so I tend to find beautiful landscapes to sketch or paint. I am fortunate that as a performer I travel the world and am able to paint in settings I might never have had the chance to visit otherwise.  On the road I travel with a big sketchpad and have a small pad that I always keep in the breast pocket of my suit jacket. I also have a travel watercolor set that I take with me. 

You’ve been a great supporter of liberal and progressive causes. Do you support marriage equality and gay civil rights? I am a humanist, so I support humanity.  Ella Fitzgerald, who was a dear friend, used to say something to me that was so simple, but yet I found it very profound. She would say, “Tony, we are all here.”  And that really is the truth of the matter — that regardless of race, gender, culture or religion, we are all human beings first and we need to respect and support one another.

You’ve performed with a number of gay or gay-friendly artists, including k.d. lang and Lady Gaga. What were those experiences like? I just love working with k.d. lang. The first time I heard her sing, I knew that she had “it,” just like Judy Garland. She has an extraordinary talent, but she makes it seem so effortless and natural. We made an album together, then she sang on both of my duets records, and we toured together. I just adore working with her and being with her. She is a lovely person.  

The first time I saw Lady Gaga was when we both performed at a New York City event for the Robin Hood Foundation, which supports the homeless.  I was completely amazed at what a very good singer and piano player she was. We are working on a collaborative jazz album together that I hope will come out later this year.  She has an excellent understanding of jazz and the popular standards, and I think her fans will love getting a chance to hear her sing this genre of music. (The album, currently titled Cheek to Cheek, has no set release date.)

You bring an energy and vibrancy to your performances that would be the envy of a performer half your age. Where do you get your strength and inspiration? Thank you. I can only say that I truly feel like I have never worked a day in my life, because I have been able to make a living doing the two things that I love the most — singing and painting. I think if you have a passion for something — art, music, literature, cooking or whatever it may be — and it makes you feel fulfilled, then it keeps you going.  And I always try to learn something new every day.

WiG Holiday Gift Guide: Tinsel Tunes

The reissue of the Cotillion Records compilation Funky Christmas gets off to a fabulously funky start with “May Christmas Bring You Happiness” by a quintet called Luther. Led by the late Luther Vandross (shortly before his disco breakthroughs with Bionic Boogie and Change, and his subsequently soaring solo career), both of Luther’s tracks (including the other Vandross original “At Christmas Time”) are the main reasons to unwrap this disc. Margie Joseph’s “Christmas Gift” and “Feeling Like Christmas” also rank high on the list. 

Comprised of songs culled from Gladys Knight & The Pips’ Christmas discs The Christmas Album (1975) andThat Special Time of Year (1982), The Classic Christmas Album make the season bright. Knight and company’s renditions of “Do You Hear What I Hear?,” Donny Hathaway’s “This Christmas,” “It’s the Happiest Time of the Year” and “That Special Time of Year” are standouts. Cuts featuring Johnny Mathis, including “When a Child Is Born” and “The Lord’s Prayer,” wrap everything with a pretty bow.

Speaking of Johnny Mathis, the legendary (and out) vocalist has been releasing Christmas albums since 1958. His latest, Sending You A Little Christmas, is a delightful addition. More than half of the seasonal selections are duets with a stellar array of guests, including Billy Joel (“The Christmas Song”), Natalie Cole (“Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas”), Gloria Estefan (“Mary’s Boy Child”) and Jim Brickman (the title tune, co-written by Brickman), to mention a few.

From snowballs to matzo balls

Mary J. Blige’s A Mary Christmas could be included in the above category, but her bright “When You Wish Upon a Star” duet with Barbra Streisand (featuring Chris Botti on the horn) puts her in this category. Blige earns kudos for her choice of duet partners throughout the disc, including bi Brit Jessie J (on the popular “Do You Hear What I Hear?”), gospel goddesses The Clark Sisters (on “The First Noel”) and Marc Anthony (on the bilingual “Noche De Paz/Silent Night”). Blige’s “The Little Drummer Boy” is also spectacular, and her reading of “My Favorite Things” suggests that she should do an album of standards.

What self-respecting homosexual doesn’t have both of Barbra Streisand’s Christmas albums — 1967’s A Christmas Album and 2001’s Christmas Memories — in their holiday music collection? So as not to make Streisand’s The Classic Christmas Album completely superfluous, think of it as a good way to initiate the next gay generation in the joys of Barbra at the time of the winter solstice. The disc, featuring 16 selections, is split almost evenly between the two source albums. It would also make a lovely gift for straight friends and family members.

Nice Jewish boy Joshua Bell fiddles with friends on Musical Gifts. Bell jingles the holiday songbook with Alison Krauss (“God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen”), Straight No Chaser (on the “Nutcracker Medley”), Kristin Chenoweth (“O Holy Night”), Renee Fleming (“I Want an Old-Fashioned Christmas”), Placido Domingo (“O Tennenbaum”), Branford Marsalis (“Amazing Grace”), fellow NJB Michael Feinstein (“The Secret of Christmas”) and Steven Isserlis and Sam Haywood (“Baal Shem, Simchat Torah”).

Released in time for Hanukkah, the double-disc set It’s A Scream How Levine Does the Rhumba, subtitled The Latin-Jewish Musical Story: 1940s-1980s, tells the tale of “Jews falling in love with Latin music.” From resorts to bar mitzvah parties and weddings, from mambo to limbo to cha-cha, Jews and Latin music go way back (can you say “Spanish inquisition”?). The 41 tracks compiled here feature Latino and Jewish musicians, such as Xavier Cugat, Ruth Wallis, Perez Prado, Carole King, Tito Puente, The Barry Sisters, Celia Cruz, Mickey Katz, Willie Colon, Eydie Gorme, Eddie Palmieri, Abbe Lane, Ray Barretto, and, of course, Herb Alpert & The Tijuana Brass. The spicy collection is perfect for playing at any winter holiday gathering. 

Christmas (past)

Andy Williams’ name is synonymous with Christmas music. Williams’ three Christmas recordings, The Andy Williams Christmas Album from 1963, Merry Christmas from 1965 and Christmas Present from 1974, along with a few singles and unreleased tracks, have been compiled on the two-disc set The Complete Christmas Recordings. Questionable politics aside, the late Williams had one of the most distinctive singing voices in popular music, and these renditions of seasonal favorites are classics.

You may already have The Original Sound Track of the CBS Television Special A Charlie Brown Christmas, by the Vince Guaraldi Trio, in one of its previous configurations. However, the latest one includes a make-your-own Snoopy doghouse, complete with festive trimmings and Peanuts characters cutouts. Of course, the music, consisting of jazzy renditions of “O Tannenbaum” and “What Child Is This,” as well as Guaraldi originals “Christmas Time Is Here” (both the instrumental and vocal versions), “Skating,” “Christmas Is Coming” and “Linus And Lucy,” are the real reason to make this part of your holiday music library. 

If you have a hankering for some country this Christmas, then The Classic Christmas Album by George Jones & Tammy Wynette should fill the bill. Bookended by a pair of duets — “Mr. & Mrs. Santa Claus” and “The Greatest Christmas Gift” — this set mainly consists of Jones and Wynette’s solo recordings from the ’60s and early ’70s.

Almost worth owning for the cover alone, Christmas with Patti Page, “the singing rage,” is as much of interest for such novelty music as “The Mama Doll Song” as it is for Page’s renditions of traditional holiday music. Six bonus tracks, including three songs from her short-lived The Patti Page Show, fill up this musical holiday stocking.

Patti Page wouldbe at home on the 12-song compilation soundtrack Mad Men Christmas: Music From and Inspired by the Hit TV Series on AMC. Mostly comprised of vintage holiday recordings, such as “Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)” by Darlene Love, “I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus” by Teresa Brewer and “White Christmas” by Rosemary Clooney. The disc also features newer recordings, including “Christmas Waltz” by Nellie McKay, “Zou Bisou Bisou,” sung by cast member Jessica Paré, and RJD2’s Mad Men theme “A Beautiful Mine.” 

Christmas present(s)

Along with the Mary J. Blige disc, Kelly Clarkson’s Wrapped In Red ranks among the best of this year’s new seasonal music offerings. The original tunes, including the title cut, “Underneath The Tree,” “Winter Dream (Brandon’s Song),” and “4 Carats,” are worthy of standing alongside the standards. Clarkson is radiant on “Silent Night” (on which she is joined by Reba McEntire and Trisha Yearwood), as well as her jazzy readings of “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas,” “Baby It’s Cold Outside,” “My Favorite Things” and “White Christmas.” 

Is there anything better than holiday music sung phonetically? You can answer that for yourself when you hear Buon Natale — The Christmas Album, by Italy’s trio of teen tenors Il Volo. Combining traditional Christmas fare (“Silent Night,” “Ave Maria,” “O Holy Night”) with more contemporary titles (“I’ll Be Home for Christmas,” “Rocking Around the Christmas Tree”), Il Volo continues to aim for crossover success, this time with an accent on the holidays.

Contemporary country diva Mindy Smith must love Christmas. The five-song EP Snowed In is her second holiday-themed release this century. Smith’s lighthearted originals (“Tomorrow Is Christmas Day” and the title track) balance out the seriousness of the more traditional selections. including “Silent Night” and “Auld Lang Syne.”

File this under: Oh, no she didn’t! Susan Boyle opens Home For Christmas, her second Christmas CD in three years, with “O Come, All Ye Faithful,” a duet with none other than Elvis Presley (gulp). Not her best idea. Johnny Mathis reprises his “When a Child Is Born” duet with Boyle. It’s one of the more pleasing moments on the album. Also a joy is Boyle’s version of “The Christmas Waltz” (written by two Yids, no less!).

Not sassy or brassy enough, despite the implied wackiness of the cover, Christmas Time Is Here, by Canadian Brass, features thoroughly delightfully playing throughout. The horns shine, particularly on Guaraldi standards, such as the title cut and “Christmas Is Coming.” “Bach’s Bells” trumpets the arrival of the holidays, and you could even say “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” glows. But when all is said and done, it’s a bit too restrained.

“YouTube sensations” (now that’s a gift you can’t return!) The Piano Guys take the holidays seriously on A Family Christmas. It’s not clear what it is about the song selection — including traditional Christmas favorites and a handful of originals by piano guy Jon Schmidt — that qualifies this as a “family” event, but everyone will find something to like here. 

Not their first time at the Christmas music rodeo, the four Celtic women of Celtic Woman come to your home for Christmas with their fittingly named CD/DVD set called, you guessed it, Home for Christmas. The 12-song studio CD features their renditions of beloved Christmas selections. Expanding considerably on the CD, the DVD, recorded live in Dublin, adds more songs and also features four more songs from an “intimate acoustic” performance.

Not quite The Nutcracker, the Broadway musical Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas! The Musical has the potential to become an annual holiday theater event. Consisting of recognizable songs written by Dr. Seuss and Albert Hague (i.e., “You’re A Mean One, Mr. Grinch”) and new tunes by Timothy Mason and Mel Marvin, the Grinch lives on (stage).

It isn’t specifically a Christmas album, but the self-titled debut album by multi-cultural America’s Got Talent finalists Forte does close with the trio’s version of “Silent Night” and includes their interpretation of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s “Pie Jesu.”