Alex Pangman & her Alleycats | Christmas Gift

real gone gal records > www.alexpangman.com

review by Joyce Corbett December 2006

Are you tired of the same Christmas songs done the same way, year after year? Would some 1930s jazz jingle your tree? Then you should hear Alex Pangman’s Christmas Gift. This jewel case contains some obscure Christmas tunes from the ’30s, some newer ones done New Orleans-style, an original tune penned by Pangman herself, “Truckin’ Around the Christmas Tree”, some great old blues sounds and, especially in Drew Jurecka's fiddle, a wee dose of country swing.

Pangman even gets her Christmas magic to work on “Jingle Bells”, a beloved classic for many but not for me. Its first seven identical notes are usually more than enough for my ears, but Alex Pangman & her Alleycats infuse this tune with a brassy vibrancy.

The bright and fresh "I Want you for Christmas", copyrighted in 1927, is just the sort of tune that suits Alex Pangman and this band to a T as is "The Man with the Bag", first made famous by Kaye Starr in 1950.

Another 1950s favourite, "I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus" with Terra Hazelton joining Alex Pangman on vocals is one of two duets on the CD. Their voices mingle beautifully on the mostly jolly tune with a blues break in the middle featuring Terra Hazelton. The other duet is “Baby It’s Cold Outside” with Alex Pangman and Tory Cassis, another addition to a growing list of fine renditions of the tune.

I particularly like Alex Pangman on the bluesy “Christmas Spirits” track, which makes me think of Ida Cox recordings from the 1930s (with better sound). An instrumental version of “Winter Wonderland” replete with shuffle beat, sassy trumpet and clarinet brings some New Orleans heat to melt the snow, and “Boogie Woogie Santa Claus” should get you rockin’ around the Christmas tree with its Downchild Blues Band-style horn arrangement and Alex Pangman’s spirited vocal.

One last but important note about this CD is the Christmas Gift referred to in its title, the enclosed Gift of Life organ donor card. I quote from Alex Pangman’s liner notes, “it is my goal through this recording to raise awareness on this front”. In the spirit of giving.

The musicians
Alex Pangman – vocals
Kevin Clark – trumpet
Ross Wooldridge – clarinet, tenor saxophone
Drew Jurecka – fiddle, alto saxophone
Peter Hill – piano
Reide Kaiser – piano (3, 4)
Sam Petite – bass
Chris Lamont – drums

Guest vocalists
Terra Hazelton
Tory Cassis

The tracks
1. Jingle Bells 2. I Want You for Christmas 3. I’ll Be Home for Christmas
4. I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus 5. Christmas Spirits 6. Winter Wonderland
7. The Man with the Bag 8. Baby It’s Cold Outside 9. Truckin’ Around the Christmas Tree
10. Boogie Woogie Santa Claus
We welcome your comments and feedback
Joyce Corbett
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