Christmas 2021 (04): Randy Travis – An Old Time Christmas (1989)

FrontCover1Randy Bruce Traywick (born May 4, 1959), known professionally as Randy Travis, is an American country music and gospel music singer, songwriter, guitarist, and actor.

Active from 1978 until being incapacitated by a stroke in 2013, he has recorded 20 studio albums and charted more than 50 singles on the Billboard Hot Country Songs charts, including sixteen that reached the No. 1 position. Considered a pivotal figure in the history of country music, Travis broke through in the mid-1980s with the release of his album Storms of Life, which sold more than four million copies. The album established him as a major force in the neotraditional country movement. Travis followed up his successful debut with a string of platinum and multi-platinum albums. He is known for his distinctive baritone vocals, delivered in a traditional style that has made him a country music star since the 1980s.

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By the mid-1990s, Travis saw a decline in his chart success. In 1997, he left Warner Bros. Records for DreamWorks Records and then for Word Records, where he began recording more Christian material. Although the career shift produced only one more number-one country hit “Three Wooden Crosses”, Travis went on to earn several Dove Awards, including Country Album of the Year five times. Since his stroke, which severely limited his singing and speaking ability, he has released archival recordings and made limited public appearances. In addition to his singing career, he pursued an acting career, appearing in numerous films and television series, including The Rainmaker (1997) with Matt Damon, Black Dog (1998) with Patrick Swayze, Texas Rangers (2001) with James Van Der Beek, National Treasure 2 (2007) and seven episodes of the Touched by an Angel television series. He appeared in two episodes of the crime solving television series, Matlock.

Travis Sold over 25 million records and has won seven Grammy Awards,[4] six CMA Awards, eleven ACM Awards, 10 AMA Awards, eight GMA Dove Awards, and a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. In 2016, Travis was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame.

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An Old Time Christmas is the fifth studio album and the first Christmas album released by country music artist Randy Travis. The album was certified Gold by the RIAA. (wikipedia)

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Of these ten Christmas songs, some are old, some are new, and one is by Travis (“How Do I Wrap My Heart for Christmas,” written with Paul Overstreet). “God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen” is outstanding. (by Brian Mansfield)

Originally released 1989, the iconic project is first Christmas record the celebrated artist ever released. After becoming a huge hit and earning Gold certification by the RIAA, Travis’ name was forever associated with the Holiday season. (countrynow.com)

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Personnel:
Eddie Bayers (drums)
Dennis Burnside (keyboards)
Larry Byrom (guitar)
Mark Casstevens (guitar)
Jerry Douglas (dobro)
Steve Gibson (bouzouki, guitar)
Doyle Grisham (pedal steel-guitar)
David Hungate (bass)
Teddy Irwin (guitar)
Greg Jennings (guitar)
Kirk “Jelly Roll” Johnson (harmonica)
Jerry Kroon (drums)
Larrie Londin (drums)
Terry McMillan (harmonica, percussion)
Brent Mason (guitar)
Farrell Morris (percussion)
Mark O’Connor (fiddle)
Hargus “Pig” Robbins (keyboards)
James Stroud (drums)
Randy Travis (vocals, guitar)
Jack Williams – bass guitar
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background vocals:
Baillie & the Boys
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Carol Chase – Sherilyn Huffman – Wendy Suits Johnson – Lisa Silver – Dianne Vanette – Cindy Richardson-Walker

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Tracklist:
01. An Old Time Christmas (Harris) 3.18
02. Winter Wonderland (Bernard/Smith) 2.24
03. Meet Me Under The Mistletoe (Collins/Irwin/Jackson) 2.41
04. White Christmas Makes Me Blue (Grissom/Rogers) 3.25
05. Santa Claus Is Coming To Town (Coots/Gillespie) 2.05
06. God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen (Traditional) 2.52
07. Pretty Paper (Nelson) 2.38
08. Oh, What A Silent Night (Collie/Louvin) 2.35
09. How Do I Wrap My Heart Up For Christmas (Overstreet/Travis) 2.46
10. The Christmas Song (Tormé/Wells) 3.21
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11. Little Toy Trains (Miller) 2.24
12. There’s A New Kid In Town (Whitley/Cook/Putnam) 3.48
13. White Christmas (Berlin) 3.26

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Wynton Marsalis Quartet – The Magic Hour (2004)

FrontCover1Wynton Learson Marsalis (born October 18, 1961) is an American trumpeter, composer, teacher, and artistic director of Jazz at Lincoln Center. He has promoted classical and jazz music, often to young audiences. Marsalis has won at least nine Grammy Awards, and his Blood on the Fields was the first jazz composition to win the Pulitzer Prize for Music. He is the only musician to win a Grammy Award in jazz and classical during the same year.

The Magic Hour is a 2004 album by Wynton Marsalis, released by Blue Note Records. The album peaked at number two on Billboard’s Top Jazz Albums chart. It was recorded on June 6–7, 2003. (wikipedia)

The Magic Hour is Marsalis’ first jazz ensemble studio recording since 1999′s Marciac Suite. His last album was All Rise, an extended composition for big band, gospel choir and symphony orchestra. “All Rise was such a huge piece involving over two hundred people. I wanted to produce my next recording with a smaller group,” says the trumpeter, who settled into Right Track Studios in New York for two days last June to record the new album. “I wanted to restate my basic love of jazz music in a quartet format,” says Marsalis. (Press release)

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As his first album of all-original material (performed with a quintet or less) since his 1988 release Thick in the South: Soul Gestures in Southern Blue, Vol. 1, and his first album for Blue Note Records, trumpeter Wynton Marsalis’ The Magic Hour is a disappointing return to progressive, small-group jazz. This is not to say that there aren’t some excellent things here, but taken as an album, The Magic Hour seems logy and inconsequential. Featuring the talented chops of pianist Eric Lewis, bassist Carlos Henríquez, and drummer Ali Jackson, Marsalis offers up a low-key grab bag of everything he’s done thus far in his career. It’s not a good sign when a predominantly instrumental jazz album begins with a vocal jazz number, albeit a stellar one featuring the epic Dianne Reeves. It would be a great start to a Reeves album, but as an opener, “Feeling of Jazz” only seems to be postponing the jazz.

Similarly irritating is Bobby McFerrin’s sickeningly cutesy guest vocal on the trite “Baby, I Love You,” an original tune co-written by the singer and Marsalis that sounds thrown together in the studio. It’s a failed and disappointing pairing that probably sounded better in theory than in practice.

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Most of the other original compositions, while not bad, are not really that impressive either, lacking the invention, humor, and general sense of purpose that hallmarked Marsalis’ early quartet albums, Black Codes (From the Underground) and J Mood. On the upside, “Big Fat Hen” is a loose and soulful second-line mix of barnyard soul and Miles Davis modalism. It’s easily the best moment on the disc, contemporizing Marsalis’ take on the New Orleans jazz tradition while threatening to get everybody out of their seats and dancing — no small achievement in the modern world of staid, concert-hall jazz. Even more impressive though is the extensive 13-minute title track, which closes the disc and finds Marsalis fearlessly exploring “Flight of the Bumblebee”-style arpeggiations, bug-like squeals, Count Basie-esque swing, Latin rhythms, and elegiac balladry all in one composition. That The Magic Hour ends with a resigned and gorgeous rendition of Marsalis’ trademark ballad — Hoagy Carmichael’s “Stardust” — is both a poignant and brilliant summation of how Marsalis continually returns to his roots in his quest to both further and protect jazz. However, the surprising experimentation and clarity of vision of these two tracks only underlines the disappointing lack of such qualities in the rest of the album. (by Matt Collar)

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Personnel:
Carlos Henriquez (bass)
Ali Jackson (drums)
Eric Lewis (piano)
Wynton Marsalis (trumpet)
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Bobby McFerrin (vocals on 04.)
Dianne Reeves (vocals on 01.)

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Tracklist:
01. Feeling of Jazz 6.59
02. You And Me 4.50
03. Free To Be 8.40
04. Baby, I Love You 5.20
05. Big Fat Hen 7.30
06. Skipping 8.01
07. Sophie Rose-Rosalee 6.46
08. The Magic Hour 13.15

Music written by Wynton Marsalis
except 04.: written by Wynton Marsalis & Bobby McFerrin

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