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.