Music Review: Ted Nash and Kristen Lee Sergeant Tease HOLIDAYS CD With Two Sweet Seasonal Singles

Rapidly becoming the Mom-and-Pop shop of great jazz, Kristen and Ted release some grown-up Christmas music.

By: Nov. 19, 2023
Music Review: Ted Nash and Kristen Lee Sergeant Tease HOLIDAYS CD With Two Sweet Seasonal Singles

Those magical makers of music are at it again.   That dream team of jazz, the great Ted Nash and the glorious Kristen Lee Sergeant, have made a Christmas album.  There certainly isn’t a shortage of new holiday music every year, especially since the age of streaming has given everybody a chance to make Merry music by way of singles, EPs, live recordings, and studio albums.  Everywhere you turn, you can hear holiday music old and new, in any way possible.  Nash and Sergeant have created a full album titled HOLIDAYS that is due for release on 11/24 (that’s 5 days away) and if their teaser releases are any indication, HOLIDAYS is an album people will want to get in their queue.

The first of the Sergeant/Nash singles to drop was “Snowbound” (Dave Frishberg), which released on streaming platforms on October 20th.  Now, I am not a music industry executive, so I don’t understand all the factors that go into timing a release, but I have to admit I am always surprised to learn of a holiday music release occurring before Halloween… but Kristen and Ted weren’t the only artists to do it, and, besides, I saw Christmas chocolates at the CVS on October 10th (I know this because I took a picture of them to send to my friend), so what the heck?  Let’s eat a chocolate snowman and listen to “Snowbound” while making our Halloween costume!

The single is marvelous.  When it starts, all lush jazz treatment and full band, you think it could just be another recording. as opposed to a Christmas single.  But when that sublime, silky Sergeant voice sings that first line “The North winds blow / It’s twelve below “ and you hear the piano tinkling like ice in a Baccarat tumbler filled with a holiday cocktail, you are instantaneously dropped into the picture and the Merry mood.  This isn’t going to be a Nat King Cole holiday offering, Brenda Lee is off shaking it around her Christmas tree, and Michael Buble is filming a TV special.  This is good, solid, grown-up Christmas music for the people whose home holiday decor is more candles in hurricanes and less elves on shelves.  Sergeant styles her vocals with her unmistakable sophistication, layering in emotion that savors less of Christmas twee and more of seductive spice, which is perfect since Ted Nash’s instrumental solo is the saxy stuff of jazz wishes.  The interlude starts off as a conversation with KLS, becoming more insistent, pulsating, rising to a fever pitch, and then pulling back, fully reminiscent of cocktail chatter at a holiday party, rich with intellect, humor, intelligence, and flirtation - that would be the cocktail chatter, but it is slyly and skillfully represented here by Ted and the interpretive ballet being created by his prowess with that prodigious woodwind instrument made of shiny Christmas ball brass.

The second single Kristen and Ted have dropped is “My Favorite Things” (Rodgers & Hammerstein) and that came out earlier this month on November 3rd.  Now, I can’t be the only person who, all these years later, wonders why the composition from The Sound of Music is a Christmas song but that’s another story, altogether.  It does, after all, make mention of a lot of wintery experiences involving snowflakes, mittens, and packages, so there is that possible leap.  It doesn’t really matter, as long as it is the jumping-off place for recordings like this.  The R&H classic has a very different vibe than “Snowbound” - it begins from a place of cacophony, insistent with bass before the other instruments stomp in… they don’t insinuate, they don’t filter, they don't slide - they get in on the action fast, on cue, and ready to go.  Like the sounds of the city, like the New York of the Christmas movies, the arrangement hustles and bustles and, before you know it, there is that Sergeant aesthetic, sleek, slick, and stupendously sick, standing still at the center of the drama, all lock-legged and laid back and living for the swirl of activity around her, but content to keep her place and watch it all go by.  It’s an elegant and somewhat emotional juxtaposition in the recording, effective as anything a jazz arranger could dream of and enjoyable as everything a jazz aficionado looks for.

Enough talking.  Enough writing.  Your time is better served by calling up either of these two singles and enjoying them as you await the release of HOLIDAYS on 11/24, but suffice it to say that this gal who loves both jazz and Christmas (AND Christmas albums) is excited about November 24th, and anyone who loves those things (and wonderful musical artists like the ones responsible for this holiday treat) should be excited, too.  Now, go get festive with Kristen and Ted.  After all, it's nearly Thanksgiving.  'Tis the season.

HERE is the Ted Nash website

THIS is the Kristen Lee Sergeant website.

Ted Nash/Kristen Lee Sergeant HOLIDAYS is a Sunnyside Records release.  HERE is the website for Sunnyside Records.

Kristen Lee Sergeant has a residency in New York City at the Gotham Hotel, and she and Ted will celebrate the release of HOLIDAYS on December 17th.   Read about the residency on Broadway World HERE and visit the Gotham website HERE.


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