by Jeff Becker
Is Pentatonix jazz? Well maybe not to some, but if you took away the label of category, the group implements jazz harmony equally as well as their elders, Manhattan Transfer. Sometimes the label of jazz can decrease the sales outreach and artist find themselves being put into larger sales categories and cross-pollinated. Case in point, Norah Jones and her first album Come Away With Me. Blue Note Records, known as a jazz label, knew the depth of the album had crossover appeal, so they marketed said vocalist in jazz as well. Though labeled as pop in all the retail outlets, certainly Pentatonix equally appeals to the jazz listener. The group is well-known for their holiday releases, in fact, the holiday genre dominates their discography in sales. This year we are treated to their latest offering in the holiday category, Christmas Is Here! Though released in October, I just can’t find myself reviewing or buying holiday anything until after Thanksgiving.
“What Christmas Means To Me,” is probably one of the most well-recorded holiday tunes and is quickly becoming a favorite for artists this year. John Legend’s holiday album highlights this very song on his holiday album A Legendary Christmas, too. Originally recorded by Stevie Wonder in 1967 and written by Story, Gaye and Gordy, the tune offers a seasoned timelessness that continues to stand the test of holiday decades. Pentatonix gives rise to external creative impulses and melds their voices with an enthusiastic ring of holiday cheer.
If you have kiddies in the home this holiday season, may I highly suggest “Here Comes Santa Claus,” a fun and frolic tune that is meant to be served with your tastiest cocoa. The holiday is the one time of year that allows the excitement of a child into your oh so adult life. Matt Sallee‘s basso profondo vocal range is galvanized and anchors the tune strongly. For a twist on the holiday classics, Danny Elfman’s “Making Christmas,” from Tim Burton’s The Nightmare Before Christmas is a must listen. The group incorporates an orchestra in a high-paced, high-flying version of “Jingle Bells,” is this does not get your holiday kicked off. Put the album on repeat and shake off that Grinch, and soon!
No matter the label, Christmas Is Here! is a burnished listen. Many holiday trimmings, baking and gatherings could use an infusion of fun. As we all know, the holidays can bring on a bit of pressure in the rush of getting things done. Christmas Is Here! just might be the tonic to brighten your holiday merriment.