Stubbys House of Christmas       
1. Christmas Time is Here
2. My Favorite Things
3. Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas
4. The Snow if Falling
5. The Christmas Song
6. The New Year’s Eve Song
7. Santa Baby
8. A Child is Born
9. Rudolf the Red Nosed Reindeer
10. Baby It’s Cold Outside
11. In the Silence of the Snowfall


American Jazz vocalist Stephanie K. serves up a cocktail of winter evergreens and traditional holiday classics, this time remaining on the east side of the pond. Long time colleague Jürgen Knautz custom penned arrangements for string quartet, jazz ensemble, and voice. Included in this mix are also a work by contemporary composer Patricia Barber and the title track, written by Stephanie K.  From warm and cheerful Bossa vibes to melancholy Blues, and contemplative Jazz Ballads, this recording offers something for every winter mood.  Pour yourself a glass of red wine or egg nog, have a seat in front of the fire, and enjoy!

Stephanie Klco-Brosius was working in molecular genetics here in America when she decided to chuck it all, move to Germany, and take up song-writing and singing.  That was 1995.  By 2002, the mother of 4 had released her first album.  "In The Silence Of The Snowfall" is album #4 for the singer.  The overall sound, here, is excellent--not quite as lush as you might get with a full orchestra, but the strings offer an impressive richness when you realize there's just one violin and one cello.  

Stephanie K shows off her impressive abilities in a wide variety of jazz styles, arrangements and moods, but she truly excels, here, in her song selection.  The album opens with "Christmas Time Is Here", which moves seamlessly from an orchestral opening to a very effective and pleasing Bossa beat.  Putting aside the perennial debate over "My Favorite Things" as a Christmas song, Stephanie gives us something else to think about by giving the song a bit of a Dave Brubeck arrangement.  Next up is a fairly straight ahead rendition of "Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas".  Then the real magic starts.

I remember, decades ago, finding an old (1950) Ray Charles recording--"The Snow Is Falling"--and being absolutely blown away.  It's a wonder to me the song is seldom recorded (and almost inexplicable Ray didn't include an updated version on his own Christmas album).  Stephanie does a fine torch version of Brother Ray's song, handling the vocals like a verteran sultry Blues vixen.  But the rest of the cast rises to the occasion as well.  Peter Kraubig and Matthias Fleige both offer up impeccable Blues solos well worthy of such a special song as this.

From there, Stephanie pulls out another largely unknown masterpiece, this one of more recent vintage, tackling Patricia Barber's "The New Year's Eve Song" from 2008.  She purrs her way through "Santa Baby".  Then another highlight as Thad Jones' "A Child Is Born" is arranged as a waltz.  This may not be the first time Thad's classic has been done as a waltz but, after hearing Stephanie's tender performance, I have to conclude it should never be performed in any other way.  After that, Stephanie goes all "Ode To Billie Joe" on "Rudolf", does a playful take on "Baby It's Cold Outside" and closes the album with her own composition, the album's title track, which turns out to be as good as anything on the disc (save the Ray Charles cover)--the kind of Jazz piece you could absolutely lose yourself in.

A word of advice on this one.  I prefer Christmas albums that work as both background and foreground music, though that's not always easily achieved.  This is an album that needs to be listened to; it will not work well as background music, in my opinion.  And, if you really want to enjoy it, you'll want to use the best stereo equipment in the house.  I can't see the album sounding right on some ipod or mp3 player or even in your computer; use the best stereo you have for full enjoyment.  Just my opinion.

The album's not perfect.  But there's an awful lot of good about it.  Too much to quibble over minor flaws.  For her selection of material alone, Stephanie K has earned my respect.  Playing and singing the songs well has earned my purchase.



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