The first time I encountered Ledisi (Nigerian for “to bring forth”) was on the Ella Fitzgerald tribute album We All Love Ella! when she offered up a stunning version of Blues in the Night . This song proved to be one of the most memorable on the record and Ledisi made the song her own with plenty of attitude and yet just enough retro to make it ring true. Ledisi has a distinctive and versatile voice and she knows just how to use it in order to best tease the most out of every lyric. Like Ella, she is known for her ‘scatting’ and her own unique approach to jazz (as well as every other genre she tackles such as R&B, soul, the blues) and this is no small feat for someone so young. As an aside, she also happens to be frankly beautiful. Ledisi is now finally getting some of the recognition she deserves with two Grammy nominations (Best New Artist and also Best R&B album for Lost and Found) as well as an appearance at the Montreux Jazz Festival and most recently she has released a really solid Christmas album which includes original material as well as more traditional covers. Actually, it is the perfect showcase for the many styles that Ledisi is capable of as well as putting a totally personal spin on some Christmas favs.
There is much to like and enjoy about this new release – entitled It’s Christmas - but its’chief appeal is that everyone is going to enjoy it. Rather than having to suffer through another season of the same-old-same-old because it just happens to be Christmas-y this is one album that your family and guests will reach for willingly since it simply happens to be great.
Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas is outstanding and I usually have a deep loathing for this song! Ledisi elevates it to a clean, tight little jazz number that will not leave you teary but rather, leave you wishing that you had worn that Little Black Dress after all to this now smoking party … Damn!
Please Come home for Christmas is uplifting and swinging with a good dose of blues rhythm underneath.. Don’t let the title fool you, there is nothing sappy or pleading about this number and also includes the very wonderful Keb Mo’ adding his vocals to help things along. Love this one.
Silent Night has been given a daring and original makeover that really works. It’s almost Paul Simon's Graceland in feeling with a totally different tempo that you would never expect but really captivating. Very courageous to tackle such a revered classic as this but again, Ledisi pulls it off.
If you want one record to put on for a really classy Christmas party or to set the tone while you are decorating and starting to get into a festive mood this would be an excellent choice.
'It's Christmas' Tour Dates:
December 4 - Carolina Theater - Durham, NC
December 5 - Variety Playhouse - Atlanta, GA
December 7 - Dillard University - New Orleans, LA
December 10 - El Rey - Los Angeles, CA
December 11-14 - Yoshi's - San Francisco, CA
December 16 - Dedry Experience - Chicago, IL
December 18 - Fillmore - Detroit, MI
December 19 - BB King's - New York, NY
December 20 - Keswick Theatre - Philadelphia, PA
December 22-23 - Rams Head - Annapolis, MD
Buy It's Christmas now at Amazon.com!