Smooth jazz fans will, no doubt, know the name of Peter White, whose guitar playing has once before graced a Christmas album, Songs of the Season, and who has released plenty of recorded music since 1990. On his latest Christmas offering, Peter White Christmas – notice that subtle juxtaposition of wording – he teams with notable names like Rick Braun (trumpet, flugelhorn), and the gorgeous Mindi Abair (Saxophones – alto/soprano), all of who not supply the album with their instruments but also sing lead on songs.
Peter White Christmas sleds through familiar holiday song territory with the expected classics. Beginning with “The Little Drummer Boy,” the song starts softly before turning into a traditional dinner club jazz version. “The Christmas Song” comes through as a smooth jazz piece. You’ll also find Joni Mitchell’s “River” in the queue, sung by Mindi Abair. “River” seems to be finding itself increasingly ensconced as a Christmas song, which is a good thing because it’s a good song, if a little strange given its escapist lyrics. Another song “Happy Xmas (War is Over),” here blended with “O Holy Night” and name changed to “Happy Christmas,” is beautifully expressed with Mindi’s saxophone, and Braun’s trumpet, carried by White’s guitar. A chorus of War is Over comes in before tapering off to allow “O Holy Night” to continue the medley. It is a standout piece for the set.
Mindi Abair provides a few originals with “I Can’t Wait For Christmas,” and “The Best Part of Christmas,” while Rick Braun offers his “Jingle Jangle Blues” original. The album finishes with the Irving Berlin favourite, “White Christmas.” Here it is as tender as the song could be sung.
Peter White Christmas does Christmas well.