Artists Worth Checking Out: Lori Mechem blends great Christmas melodies
Anderson, Indiana native who makes the home of Amy Grant and 2005 Playboy Playmate Tiffany Fallon Rooney today in Nashville, Tennessee–Lori Mechem has definitely made her piano add to the magic and wonder of the holiday season.
I first heard of her 2005 Brazilian Christmas album in 2011 and it was around that time, she paid tribute to the Vince Guaraldi Trio with the world famous Christmas is Coming–A Tribute to A Charlie Brown Christmas.
Images courtesy of qubuz.com (top) and freecodesource.com (bottom)
Her piano and help from Chris Brown on drums, Pamela Sixfin, Conni Ellisor and David Angell on violin, with Carole Rabinowitz and Bob Mason teaming up on cello…each carol comes out so beautifully.
Whether you listen to either album (from the Village Square and Green Hill Instrumental labels, respectively) while you work or have it as simple background music when guests arrive for appetizers, dinner, etc., you cannot go wrong.
Some of the carols overlap on both albums. And please, don’t let the briefly sad image of Charlie Brown’s tree wilting to the ground send off negative vibes. Rather, as Linus reminded us many years ago,
“It’s not bad at all, really. Maybe it just needs a little love.”
Unlike the real album, there is no “Greensleeves”, but the first four tracks on the Vince Guaraldi tribute almost sounds like the original 1965 CBS Television special. It is simply amazing to hear.
The familiar jam tune, “Snowfall” is also covered brilliantly. And even a nice bonus on Track 9 with the actual Charlie Brown theme itself, as well as “The Christmas Waltz” (another longtime Peanuts holiday carol along the lines of “Linus And Lucy”, tried years later by smooth jazz great David Benoit) should be instant holiday enjoyment.
2012 was an outstanding year for Brazilian jazz, with many female artists either blossoming onto the scene in the American public, or new faces looking to carve a niche–like I have profiled in my first weeks in this blog.
For 2013, I am planning on covering at least one artist every single week. Sometimes, I plan to cover a brief review of one album. Or, if an artist did two albums–you will get to read a two-fer. I will point some key songs in each album to look for when you add to your jazz collections. Even if the artists did more than three albums, I hope to devote an entire month to each individual album with some YouTube clips–Sergio Mendes and Brasil ’66 immediately come to mind along with mutliple Brazilian Grammy Award winner Marisa Monte.
Lucky for us, most CD’s are available at many online outlets–from Ebay and Amazon to Connect Brazil and the outstanding two hour weekly podcast put together by Scott Adams, longtime former WNUA midday personality in Chicago before smooth jazz was sadly kicked to the curb in favor of alternative rock when WLFM left the air in April after nearly three years on the air (ironic that WKQX, aka Q-101 would resurface by late February 2014 and the former home of smooth jazz is WGN Radio’s all sports talk station, simply known as 87.7 THE GAME.)
At the very least, we are so thankful to have plenty of jazz channels online for our listening pleasure. Although terrestrial radio considers jazz as a ‘has-been’ similar to other formats of past generations, jazz will always have a home on both sides of the Equator.
And that voice will only grow, stronger and stronger with each note, each time a lyric is sung into a studio microphone or at some intimate concert venue, and with each album that I highlight here in this space.
One of my long term goals is to have enough of a catalog of posts readily available by the time the Opening Ceremonies to the 2016 Summer Olympic Games roll around. My list of artists that I would really enjoy seeing perform on the world’s biggest stage is growing almost by the week since the end of the 2012 London Olympics. Song wise, I am sure we can think of plenty of classic and unique songs to get fans through the first 45 or so minutes–but to fill up four hours, that is going to be one very complex task for the Rio organizers to muddle through when the time comes.
For the short term, I will allow a bit of wiggle room anytime a new artist comes onto the scene or in the case of two really marvelous female singers in Bianca Rossini and Patricia Talem, both are planning new albums slated for release to the public in early 2013. Once I get my hands on a copy, their albums will get reviewed and if time permits–I will get to interview again via email with some of our favorite artists on any upcoming projects.
That, in a nutshell–is what you can expect. And yes, this is only just the beginning.
Season’s Greetings to All, and may Santa Claus leave a lot of cool Brazilian jazz CD’s inside your stockings. He has already left a few for me.
See you all in January.