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The Hope of Christmas (Holiday CD)

A delightful jazz-based album of original songs written by William Schermerhorn and accomplished composers magnificently sung by Ann Hampton Callaway.

“The Hope of Christmas” (MCJ Jazz) (Cover Art by Jeff O.Brien Myers)

“The Hope of Christmas” (MCJ Jazz) (Cover Art by Jeff O.Brien Myers)

Darryl Reilly

Darryl Reilly, Critic

“On Union Street” with music by Wesley Whatley is the lively and wistful opening track of the delightful jazz based recording, The Hope of Christmas.  It is performed by the acclaimed vocalist Ann Hampton Callaway and is one of the twelve songs on it she magnificently sings.

Lyricist William Schermerhorn has crafted eleven wonderful original songs for this work that range from sentimental to inspirational to the warmly comic that perfectly capture the spirit of the holiday.  His fine words are matched by the gorgeous melodies of accomplished composers.

It’s a novel accomplishment to have created totally new compositions that successfully delve into themes that virtually everyone is familiar with from the many classic Christmas songs already in existence.  Mr. Schermerhorn’s titles simply and illustratively convey their meanings.

Singer Ann Hampton Callaway (Photo credit: Bill Westmoreland)

Singer Ann Hampton Callaway (Photo credit: Bill Westmoreland)

“One Star” with music by Stephen Fox is a marvelous Christmas list song.  “I Believe” with music by Wesley Whatley tenderly emulates classic songs about Santa.  This was first performed by Kermit the Frog and was previously released as a single with Kermit the Frog and Disney star Tiffany Thornton.  Mr. Whatley also composed “I Want to Play Santa” a jaunty ode to wanting Christmas to last all year long.

Ms. Callaway’s renowned expressive voice fully brings emotional depth and lightness when required to each song.  “What Good is Being Cranky (When It’s Christmas Time)” with music by Mary Ehlinger finds her deliriously scat singing.

Michael Feinstein composed “My Gift of Thanks” and it’s a smoothly effective tribute to optimism dominated by commanding saxophone interludes.  Ms. Callaway composed the finale “Fly With The Angels” and it’s a slow tempo lush composition with the recording’s producer Marty Asby’s superb guitar playing prominently intertwined. This number showcases her fantastic soaring tones and ends with her whispering “Merry Christmas.”

Lyricist William Schermerhorn (Photo credit: Kent Miller)

Lyricist William Schermerhorn (Photo credit: Kent Miller)

The jazz ensembles Five Play and New York Voices sparklingly support Ms. Callaway.  In addition there is trumpeter Cláudio Roditi, saxophonist Gerald Albright, The Ted Rosenthal Trio led by pianist Ted Rosenthal who all make up the sensational band.

Mr. Schermerhorn has been awarded two Emmys for his songwriting for television.  The collaboration with Ms. Callaway on The Hope of Christmas took eighteen months and has resulted in this joyous and eclectic recording. It contains a number of songs that are undoubtedly sure join the long list of holiday perennials.

The Hope of Christmas (MCG Jazz)

For information and to purchase, visit http://www.mcgjazz.org

Darryl Reilly
About Darryl Reilly (359 Articles)
A native New Yorker, Darryl Reilly graduated from NYU with a BFA in Cinema Studies. For the Broadway League, (formerly The League of American Theatres and Producers) he developed, and for five years conducted their Broadway Open House Tours, which took visitors through The Theatre District and into several Broadway theaters. He contributed to Broadway Musicals Show by Show: Sixth Edition (Applause Books). Since 2013, he has reviewed theater, cabaret, and concerts for Theaterscene.net.

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