Jack Frost & the Christmas Band – Volume 1

This disc of eight Christmas songs (The First Noel being the only “carol” of the bunch) is brought to us by producer Ivan Valles, a gifted drummer/percussionist who owns IVM Music in Miami. Not a place one typically associates with Christmas.

“Jack Frost” and the band are, Ivan and some of his talented musician friends. The CD contains the blurb “Holiday songs that everyone loves in an easy listening jazz feel” and that’s a fairly good description. This is certainly a disc that you would want to have playing if you were having a Christmas dinner party.

Giovanni Piacentini’s vocals seem straight out of the 1940’s. He seems a bit of a throwback when compared to vocalists who seem more concerned about their chops than the song. From the first verse of the opener, a jaunty version of It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas, to the closing, haunting melody of I’ll Be Home for Christmas, you can almost picture him singing in one of those old black and white holiday movies.

But the real “jazz feel” is supplied by the wonderful understated piano and keyboard work of Simon Char. His light touch carries the group, and every time he gets a short space to solo, he strikes just the right balance. He certainly lives by the old adage, “leave them wanting more.”

And “more” is kind of the feeling you have when listening. You sort of wish there was more jazz (and less “easy listening”), more chance for the group to truly showcase their stuff. Some songs, like The First Noel, Christmas in Killarney and White Christmas are done a little more straight than one might have liked. And there are certainly some strange moments – Silver Bells, in particular, is a song that has some strange choices in arrangement, from the out-of-nowhere slide solo to the chord progressions in the choruses – but on the whole this CD gives you just the right touch of the holiday spirit.