Jonathan Stout and his Campus Five • Let it Snow

Christmas songs have always had chord changes that appeal to trad jazz and swing players (probably because many were written prior to 1950) and serve as suitable pieces for jamming. Guitarist-arranger Jonathan Stout, the leader of the Campus Five, performs 15 Christmas-related tunes on Let It Snow.

His group features singer Hilary Alexander, Jim Ziegler on trumpet and vocals, tenor-saxophonist Albert Alva, pianist Chris Dawson, bassist Samuel Wolfe Rocha, and drummer Josh Collazo. Stout’s band always swings at danceable tempos, the vocals of Ms. Alexander and Ziegler and pleasing and cheerful, and the ensembles and solos are consistently hot.

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The group performs such numbers as “Santa Claus Is Coming To Town,” a heated “Button Up Your Overcoat,” “Rudolph The Red Nosed Reindeer,” “Jingle Bells” (a fine feature for pianist Dawson), and “Frosty The Snowman” plus the more recent “Christmas Time In Los Angeles” and a few lesser-known songs. “Mele Kalikimaka” has Mikiya Matsuda guesting on steel guitar.

Jonathan Stout’s recording is very easy to enjoy.

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Since 1975 Scott Yanow has been a regular reviewer of albums in many jazz styles. He has written for many jazz and arts magazines, including JazzTimes, Jazziz, Down Beat, Cadence, CODA, and the Los Angeles Jazz Scene, and was the jazz editor for Record Review. He has written an in-depth biography on Dizzy Gillespie for AllMusic.com. He has authored 11 books on jazz, over 900 liner notes for CDs and over 20,000 reviews of jazz recordings.

Yanow was a contributor to and co-editor of the third edition of the All Music Guide to Jazz. He continues to write for Downbeat, Jazziz, the Los Angeles Jazz Scene, the Jazz Rag, the New York City Jazz Record and other publications.

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