It’s Almost Christmas Eve Reviews

Jersey Jazz Review by Joe Lang (December 2018)

“It’s Almost Christmas Eve
 (Harbinger – 3406) is an inspired album of Christmas songs.  It features vocalists STEVE ROSS, SUELLEN ESTEY, BENJAMIN WEIL and RON SPIVAK, with Ross holding down the piano chair.  Ross and Weil got the idea for an album of “Broadway-style hidden gems along with a few classics of the genre” while attending a holiday party hosted by Spivak where Ross played the title song, one that he wrote with Ron Hirsch and Rosie Casey.  As you listen to selections like “Sing a Little Song of Christmas,” “Goin’ on a Sleigh Ride,” “Lovers on Christmas Eve,” “Who Says There Ain’t No Santa Claus” and “Together This Christmas” sung by this quartet of singers, you feel like you are at the kind of party where Ross and Weil were inspired to conceive of this album.  They have programmed the 22 tracks cleverly.  A 1920 rarity by George Gershwin and Arthur Jackson, “Snow Flakes” and “Snow,” an Irving Berlin creation from the film White Christmas, follow “The Christmas Waltz in a clever medley. A Berlin obscurity from 1916, “Santa Claus: A Syncopated Christmas Song” is also included.  They have matched familiar tunes with obscurities in other medleys, “Toyland” with “Elves and Friends,” and “I Saw Three Ships” with “Three Ships.”  There are other interesting surprises to be found here, and it all adds up to a unique and delightful Christmas collection.”

“…There’s the 102-year-old Berlin bit of playfulness called “Santa Claus: A Syncopated Christmas Song” that has a jaunty splash of fun warning kids to toe the line if they want presents from the guy from the North Pole. Cut from Styne and Sondheim’s landmark Gypsy (but included as a bonus track on the show’s 2008 revival cast recording and occasionally elsewhere), we get the lovely “Three Wishes for Christmas.” This track show other sides of versatile Weil in two more of his solo turns. And if your wishes are for more refreshing think-outside-the-box picks, you’ll get more than three such wishes…”
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PAPATAMUS Review byRobert D. Rusch

[Harbinger Record hcd3406] is not jazz but cabaret. Lead by STEVE ROSS [p/voc], who with 3 other singers [Suellen Estey, Benjamin Weil and Ron Spivak] present a set of 22 [64:53] Christmas songs rarely heard. They approach the program with formality and humor. Tunes include “I Don’t Remember Christmas” “12 Days After Christmas” and ‘’Santa Claus: A Syncopated Christmas Song” plus 19 other ditties sure to please various moods.”

Read the full New York Times Interview