With ensemble vocal jazz, the danger is always that tight and complex harmony writing will come across as too smooth and too sweet – for some reason, chords that sound sharp and bracing when distributed among reed instruments can sound cloying and overly slick when sung by human voices. The vocal/instrumental quartet New York Voices don't avoid that trap entirely on their latest album (and their first as an ensemble in seven years), but they continue to demonstrate their mastery of the genre with a solid program of new and old songs and innovative arrangements. Their take on "Darn That Dream" is startlingly new (and features a fine bass clarinet solo by Bob Mintzer), and the lyrics that group members added to John Coltrane's "Moment's Notice" work very nicely. Not everyone will agree that the world needed a vocal jazz version of Laura Nyro's "Stoned Soul Picnic," but the New York Voices' version is really lots of fun and is sure to bring a nostalgic tear to more than one baby-boomer eye. Apart from a couple of saccharine moments on "In the Wee Small Hours of the Morning," A Day Like This is a pleasure from start to finish. Recommended.
Of all the factors making the more cynical amongst us dread the oncoming of another festive season, the preponderance of the same dozen records spun endlessly across the airwaves and in department stores for months prior to the big day, is one of the most potent. But with a compilation as refreshing, thrilling and eclectic as this alternative yuletide collection now available, with its delightful tunes actually complementing the event in question, the time has come to welcome in the season of goodwill while enjoying the likes of The Reindeer Boogie, North Pole Rock, Mambo Santa Mambo or one of 53 other Christmas Crackers as presented on this 2 disc set.