Jason Paul Curtis: These Christmas Days

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Jason Paul Curtis

These Christmas Days

December 17, 2017

Reviewed by Bart Greenberg for Cabaret Scenes

This new, easy, jazz album features eight new songs centered around Christmas by Jason Paul Curtis, who also is the lead vocalist throughout. Framing these songs are two classics, one only dimly related to the season. Curtis is backed up by two excellent jazz ensembles: the smaller jazz combo Singlab and the big band sound of Swing Shift. There is some excellent solo playing throughout.

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Two of the most charming tracks feature duets with the songwriter pairing with his 13-year-old daughter, Isabella. “December Again” recalls a loving father’s memories of the growth of his child from babyhood to teenager, reflected in the Christmas holiday, with such details as her height compared to the tree, and a Santa Claus hat. “I Want Snow” is a lightly comic conversation in a car debating the merits of where to spend the December day, set to a deliciously loony waltz.

“I’ll Feel Christmas” has the unique topic of the beginning of the holiday season set to a Motown-inspired orchestration, while “New Year’s Vacation” wraps up the festivities with a big-band swing. It’s pure romance in its focus on the singer’s wife that is easy to imagine Frank Sinatra covering.

Framing the originals is a rendition of “(Everybody’s Waitin’ for) The Man with the Bag,” utilizing the original charts, and the evergreen “Just the Way You Look Tonight,” which fits in only because of its romanticism, with an aching contribution by alto sax player Dave Schiff and Curtis’ own yearning vocal.

Throughout, the singer allows a shifting range of emotions—romantic, playful, paternal—to be reflected in his delivery of lyrics in a clear and uncomplicated manner, allowing the instrumentalists to add the complexity to the songs. The album remains a very satisfying experience, whether for quiet listening or as background to a holiday gathering.

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Bart Greenberg

Bart Greenberg first discovered cabaret a few weeks after arriving in New York City by seeing Julie Wilson and William Roy performing Stephen Sondheim and Cole Porter outdoors at Rockefeller Center. It was instant love for both Ms. Wilson and the art form. Some years later, he was given the opportunity to create his own series of cabaret shows while working at Tower Records. "Any Wednesday" was born, a weekly half-hour performance by a singer promoting a new CD release. Ann Hampton Callaway launched the series. When Tower shut down, Bart was lucky to move the program across the street to Barnes & Noble, where it thrived under the generous support of the company. The series received both The MAC Board of Directors Award and The Bistro Award. Some of the performers who took part in "Any Wednesday" include Barbara Fasano and Eric Comstock, Tony Desare, Andrea Marcovicci, Carole Bufford, the Karens, Akers, Mason and Oberlin, and Julie Wilson. Privately, Greenberg is happily married to writer/photographer Mark Wallis, who as a performance artist in his native England gathered a major following as "I Am Cereal Killer."