Peggy Duquesnel – All I Ask For Christmas

Oct. 28, 2013

No, we don’t regularly feature straight-ahead jazz or country here, but here’s a project from the attractive pianist/vocalist with the bubbly sPeggy Duquesnel CDmile, Peggy Duquesnel, that transforms many of our beloved Christmas carols into seriously bopping and strolling jazz numbers sprinkled with a healthy amount of country influence. The album, due out on Nov. 5, is called All I Ask For Christmas, and it warrants a good listen.

Now, granted, some of the renditions may take you by surprise, and you may or may not prefer the version of one or more of your personal faves as presented here, but overall, it’s a wonderfully innovative take on the classics.

Each track has its own appealing twist – like “What Child Is This?” resembling “Take Five.”  Then, there’s the country influence on her own “Under the Christmas Tree,” complete with pedal steel guitar. Brow-raising seasonal music?  Despite the many other takes you’ve heard on carols, yes, I think it’s safe to say that. Duquesnel definitely puts her own signature on these tracks which include timeless pieces like “Little Drummer Boy,” “O Christmas Tree,” “Silent Night,” and “What Child Is This?”

Did I mention that this project contains two CDs? No? Well, that’s a huge factor here, since the second CD features Duquesnel’s cool and jazzy vocals on some of the same carols.  With Duquesnel’s vocals carrying the day, you just may reconsider your hesitancy about the instrumental version of your faves here. Her vocals transport the songs to yet another place. Take, for example, her vocal versions of “Mary Did You Know” and “Breath of Heaven (Mary’s Song).” Absolutely beautiful.   Also, the country feel of “Silent Night” works here.

Helping along with the vocals are Bill Cantos and Emma Werderman. Add to that the bright lights of such high caliber talent as trumpeter Rick Braun and bassist Brian Bromberg, some smooooth scatting from Duquesnel and Cantos (check out the jazzy/bluesy title track and Duquesnel original), and you’ve got something new and comfy with which to bring in the season.

Different? Yes. Unappealing? Not at all. This Christmas season, let a little creativity, innovativeness, and imagination allow your spirit to open its door to this holiday present. – Ronald Jackson