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Music Review

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The Gathering


Artist: Amber Weekes
Label: Amber Inn Productions
RRP: £13.99
0 51497 020650 5
Release Date: 01 October 2020

Popular jazz singer, Amber Weekes has releases her first Christmas album, The Gathering. She employs Mark Cargill’s arrangements for a cast of top Los Angeles-based musicians including pianists Josh Nelson, Tony Campodonico, and Eddy Olivieri, bassists John B. Williams, Adam Cohen, and Kevin Brandon, drummers Fritz Wise, Sinclair Lott, and Nathaniel Scott, guitarists Paul Jackson, Jr, Doug MacDonald, and Jacques Lesure, tenor-saxophonist Rickey Woodard, trumpeter Andrew Carney, and a string section...

Christmas... that strange time of year when the same old songs are trotted out by artists in the hopes that punters will part with their cash to feel nostalgic once again. Sometimes it works (as is very much the case here). Sometimes the desire to add their own flair can backfire. On The Gathering, Amber Weekes manages to offer up a timeless collection of jazz and soul based reworkings of some old favourites.

Weekes's soulful voice shines through to deliver a festive sprinkling of magic. Some of the tracks are wonderfully reworked as lounge jazz (staying just the right side of cheesy).

While I enjoyed this album as a whole, I have to single out 'What Are You Doing New Year’s Eve' which beautifully balances Weekes's vocals with a classical performance from the band. Her rendition of 'Silent Night' sees her pulling out all the stops to really add warmth to the original.

'My Romance' was a little harder to warm too. It has Weekes displaying a great deal of charm while singing out-of-tempo, creating a dreamlike atmosphere. I was unsure what 'The Gathering' was all about, but while Weekes vocals and the band are spot on, the backing singers sound like Sesame Street / The Muppet singers.

On balance this is a truly magical festive album which you're pretty much guaranteed to get years of pleasure from.

Track listing

01. The Christmas Waltz (3:47)
02. I’ll Be Home For Christmas (featuring Paul Jackson, Jr.) (4:42)
03. My Romance (Christmas Mix) (3:34)
04. I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus (4:17)
05. Some Children See Him (5:58)
06. What Are You Doing New Year’s Eve (4:58)
07. Winter Wonderland (3:10)
08. Silent Night (3:44)
09. Let It Snow! Let It Snow! Let It Snow! (3:19)
10. The Gathering (4:37)


Nick Smithson

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