David Ian David Ian


Vintage Christmas

Release Date: November 8, 2011
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David Ian—a.k.a. Dave Ghazarian of Superchick renown—delivers a tasty assortment of holiday tunes on the appropriately titled Vintage Christmas. In contrast to the aggressive pop/rock of his regular group, Ian here elects for a jazz-trio approach, augmented by the vocals of Acacia (of Tal & Acacia) and Andre Miguel Mayo. His elegant piano work—inviting comparisons to Vince Guaraldi and Bill Evans—lends the album a ‘50s-era hipster feel. Jon Estes’ melodic upright bass and Brian Fitch’s light but sturdy drums keep the rhythms flowing nicely. Wulfing shines with her caressing, Norah Jones–like vocals on “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” and “Hark! The Herald Angels Sing.” Mayo’s easy-swinging delivery of “Let It Snow” and “Christmas Time with You” (a David Ian original) kindles memories of holiday recordings by the likes of Frank Sinatra and Nat King Cole. Instrumentals like “Santa Claus Is Coming to Town” give the band room to stretch out and solo in fine style. It’s performed with a smooth touch and plenty of heart.

Album Review

Jazz pianist David Ian treats the classics with a deft hand on "Vintage Christmas," seamlessly melding the some traditional compositions with the perfect hint of lounge-meets-jazz phrasing.

There's a way to botch this approach, to make it too kitschy. Ian knows better and meanders from the traditional approach just enough to keep it interesting, but without too many extra instruments mucking up the arrangement. His minimalist piano work delivers a clean approach here.

The best moments come when Ian is paired with vocals by Acacia, one half of the sister-duo group Tal & Acacia. Her tone is dreamy on "Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas," without excessive back-phrasing which some vocalists have employed on this standard.

Ian best work is evident on his vocal-free rendition of "I'll Be Home For Christmas," with just some soft bass notes and drum work to back him up. His explorations with the melody are mild and it's nice that he doesn't meander off into a jazz jungle of unrelated riffs.

If there's something close to a dud here it's "Hark! The Herald Angels Sing." It's tough to make this staid song soar and he doesn't here. Other than that misstep, Ian and company have delivered a timeless take on these Christmas regulars.
- Ron Harris, Associated Press