On Home for the Holidays, Joey DeFrancesco and his comrades bring fresh life to these Christmas favorites, while respecting the core melodies that have made them so popular. "The thing about a jazz Christmas album is that you play the melodies pretty much intact," he explains. "I stuck to the harmonic element of the melodies, but then you go into the improvisation on the solos. That is when we take our liberties." A fine example of DeFrancesco's refreshing approach to the material is his transformation of "Blue Christmas," the closing song on The Party. The potent combination of fluent piano and guitar, resonant tenor saxophone and Joey's virile vocals chase away the melancholy of the lyrics, turning the tune into a vibrant and upbeat delight. His sensitive and serious side is revealed on The Tradition, with his tasteful and moving solo organ renditions of "O Come All Ye Faithful," "Away In A Manger," and "O Holy Night."
Home for the Holidays is actually a double album, a treasure trove of some 23 tunes. Disc One (entitled The Party) features many of the most popular Christmas and holiday songs ever recorded. "This has the typical Christmas party songs," says Joey, and the list includes such favorites as "Rudolph The Red Nosed Reindeer," "Merry Christmas Baby," "Home for the Holidays," "Santa Claus Is Coming To Town," and "Blue Christmas."
Fitting snugly alongside these tunes are two superb new original DeFrancesco compositions, the title track, "Home for the Holidays," and "Christmas at 3 a.m." DeFrancesco calls Disc Two (The Tradition) "the more traditional liturgical side of Christmas music." Here, he reprises such beloved hymns and carols as "O Come All Ye Faithful," "The First Noel," and "Silent Night," while infusing them with his distinctive musical dynamism.
DeFrancesco grew up listening to such '60s-era Hammond organ-based Christmas albums as Jimmy Smith's Christmas Cookin', Don Patterson's Holiday Soul and Jimmy McGriff's Christmas With Jimmy McGriff. He has done his influences proud by coming up with a thrilling new Christmas classic, one similarly destined to stand the test of time. This is an album you definitely must take Home for the Holidays.