2. Let It Snow! Let It Snow! Let It Snow!
3. Silent Night
4. It's Beginning To Look A Lot Like Christmas
5. Joy To The World
6. Little Drummer Boy
7. O Holy Night
8. Frosty The Snowman
9. White Christmas
10. We Three Kings
11. Winter Wonderland
12. The Twelve Days Of Christmas
13. I'll Be Home For Christmas
14. Carol Of The Bells
15. O Come All Ye Faithful
iTunes Bonus Tracks
16. Jingle Bells (Alternate Version)
17. I'll Be Home For Christmas (Alternate Version)
18. Frosty The Snowman (Alternate Version)
Blind since childhood, Marcus Roberts is one of the finest musicians to come from what is often thought of as "the younger generation of jazz" (the "older" coming in the age of Charles Mingus, Charles Parker, Dizzy Gillespie, etc.). Roberts got his big break when Wynton Marsalis added him to his band in 1985. It wasn't long after that that Marcus was cutting records as a leader, rather than as a sideman.
We got word that Roberts would be releasing a Christmas album fairly early, with an October release expected. But the Roberts album dropped off the schedule for a while and we felt obliged to move it to our Limbo list. Frankly, I'd about given up hope. But here it is and only a few weeks later than originally announced.
"Celebrating Christmas" is Roberts' second Christmas record, his first coming some 20 years earlier. "Prayer For Peace" was a completely different exercise than "Celebrating Christmas". The 1991 release featured Roberts playing piano solo and had a much more resonant spirituality to it (if you thought it would be impossible to make "Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer" a spiritual experience, you should hear Roberts ragtime infused version). "Celebrating Christmas" is a trio performance, by and large (Roberts does go it solo on three tracks); thus it is far more a traditional jazz approach and a much more secular and, well, celebrational Christmas record. The pair, in tandem, are just about the perfect Jazz Christmas mix.
At the moment, Amazon is only offering the CD through private vendors, though they do have the download version. Marcus Roberts, for his part, has taken the opportunity to configure an entirely new web site and you can purchase the CD through his web store there. Meanwhile, the iTunes version features three alternate takes. Consider it your Christmas bonus.