Back in the 90s, when versatile pop, R&B and jazz vocalist Marilyn Scott was releasing some of her best pop-jazz albums – including the George Duke produced gems Take Me With You and Avenues of Love, she started an exciting holiday tradition. Gathering some of L.A.’s best studio and touring musicians – including killer horn players, often from Tower of Power – she would book one of the city’s coolest rock or jazz venues for a wild night of Christmas cheer full of high energy blues, jazz and soul with a few sensual ballads in the mix. It’s great to see that Scott is still in the holiday spirit after all these years, and with such fun and buoyant results on a new collection whose title offers an inviting directive – especially to those who are a bit weary of hearing the same old Yuletide tunes done in conventional ways.
While infusing a fresh, soulful glory into oft-covered tunes like “This Christmas,” “Christmastime Is Here” and “Merry Christmas Baby,” and bringing a spirited sass and wild abandon to secular standards like “Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer” and “Jingle Bells,” Scott also leads her band through more unexpected, relatively obscure delights like Leon Russell’s “Slippin’ Into Christmas” and “Christmas In Chicago,” both given a burning blues-rock treatment. Adams’ and Bamont’s sizzling horn arrangements are stellar throughout, and reach one of their highest emotional peaks rising slowly behind Scott’s emotional question, “What Are You Doing New Year’s Eve?”
Other tracks include a gospel-tinged “Sweet Little Jesus Boy” (featuring the Perry Sisters) and the swinging Motown classic “What Christmas Means To Me.” As always, Scott’s explosive holiday band deserves full mention: Brandon Fields and Eric Marienthal on sax, Greg Adams and Lee Thornburg on trumpet, Johnnie Bamont on bari sax, and a rhythm section featuring Wayne Linsey (keys, organ), Larry Kimpel (bass), Herman Mathews (drums), Mike Miller (guitar) and Kevin Ricard (percussion). Put this on, and let Marilyn Scott help you Get Christmas Started! in a way you’ll never forget.