Online since August 2002

An old-fashioned charm

Reviewed December 2009

Hot Club Cool Yule
Hot Club Cool Yule
By The Hot Club of San Francisco

Azica Records: 2009

To hear sound clips or learn more about this release, Turbula recommends viewing its Amazon.com entry.

Billed as the Christmas CD Django Reinhardt and Stephane Grappelli never got around to making, the new set from the string jazz band Hot Club of San Francisco has a warm charm, but never comes close to living up to the sort of challenge the five men set for themselves.

There's a fun take on "Djingle Bells," a lovely round of "Carol of the Bells" and a relaxed instrumental version of "The Christmas Song." Guest singers Isabelle Fontaine and Jeff Magidson don't offer much new to "Baby, It's Cold Outside" (Lou Rawls' and Dianne Reeves' duet remains the untouchable standard), and "Santa Claus Is Coming to Town" features a slightly out of tune vocal.

In fact, the instrumentals work best – nobody here has the heft as singer to really lead the band from the mic. But the instrumentals lend the holidays an old-fashioned air with their acoustic basics, swinging charts and enthusiastic playing.

Review by Jim Trageser. Jim is a writer and editor living in Escondido, Calif., and was a contributor to the "Grove Press Guide to Blues on CD" (1993) and "The Routledge Encyclopedia of the Blues" (2005).

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