Emma Smith is ‘Snowbound’ for Christmas

Following the resounding success of her critically acclaimed album ‘Meshuga Baby’ (released earlier this year and reviewed for this blog), leading UK jazz vocalist Emma Smith sashays in to Yuletide with a series of swinging arrangements of some lesser-known vintage Christmas classics and familiar favourites, destined to stimulate the spirits of all who hear them this festive season.

Irving Berlin’s ‘I’ve Got My Love To Keep Me Warm’ gets things underway and is a great example of what Emma Smith is all about: strong vocal performance, terrific musical accompaniment with all performers on very good form and a wonderful straight-ahead swinging jazz delivery. ‘What Are You Doing New Year’s Eve?’ slows things down and gives Emma the opportunity to show just how well she phrases her song choices. This Frank Loesser number sounds so good when Alex Garnett stretches out on is sax solo section. Costley-White brings a blues feel to the tune as Emma makes good use of her vocal range and volume to give depth to this terrific tune.

‘Blues For Santa’ shows another side to Emma’s style: this lady can sing the blues! The vocal delivery is impressive, the musicians pitch their supporting playing just right and there is a wonderful organ section from Ross Stanley that exudes the Blues _ this could be the standout track fro me. Sarah Vaughan recorded ‘Snowbound’ (a Russell Faith, Clarence Kehner tune) back in 1962 with a full orchestra backing. I very much enjoy listening to Sarah Vaughan but strip away the strings, as Emma Smith has done, and the song takes on a very different, and for me, much improved sound. This is a stunning ballad played with subtlety and sung with feeling and with all the emphasis on the lyrics unhindered, as they are, by the lush, overpowering orchestration of the ‘62 version.

This five track release finishes with ‘Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer’ and what a wonderful interpretation it is too. The lyrics are, of course, very familiar but the delivery is original, fun, vibrant and at times sassy. What this final number shows is that Emma Smith might do covers but they are very much in her own style and very refreshing for being so.

I am one of a fast-growing number of admirers of Emma Smith’s sound and some of what is said about her would be extremely hard to argue with:

One of the most stylish and original interpreters of Songbook classics on the scene.

All About Jazz

Emma Smith is a singer with a voice that is a breath of fresh air to the jazz world.

Jazz Views

I look forward to hearing where Emma goes next but in the mean-time I am happy to have this Christmas release playing out through my speakers.

Record Release Soirée 10th December, Pizza Express Jazz Club, 10 Dean Street, London, W1D 3RW more information and ticket details here: www.pizzaexpresslive.com

Snowbound is available via Bandcamp.

Musicians: Emma Smith – vocals; Alex Garnett – saxophones; Ross Stanley – organ; Nick Costley-White – guitar; Ed Richardson – drums.

Tracklist: 1. I’ve Got My Love To Keep Me Warm. 2. What Are You Doing New Year’s Eve? 3. Blues For Santa. 4. Snowbound. 5. Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer.

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