Ann Hampton Callaway - "The Hope of Christmas"

(10/9/2015, MCG Jazz)
The Hope of Christmas

Track Listing:
  1. On Union Street (A Christmas Toast)
  2. The Hope of Christmas
  3. One Star
  4. Discovery
  5. I Believe
  6. I Saw a Sparrow
  7. Santa Doesn't Like Me
  8. Christmas Isn't Christmas at All
  9. I Want to Play Santa
  10. What Good is Being Cranky (When it's Christmas Time)
  11. My Gift of Thanks
  12. Fly With the Angels

The Hope Of Christmas is a new collection of Christmas songs interpreted by multiplatinum-selling singer, Tony nominated actress, pianist and leading champion of the American songbook, Ann Hampton Callaway, with lyrics by two-time Emmy® Award winner William Schermerhorn, and featuring twenty-nine of the world’s best jazz musicians, including Five Play, New York Voices, Hubert Laws, Claudio Roditi, Gerald Albright, The Ted Rosenthal Trio and more. The recording will be released on the MCG Jazz record label (Marty Ashby, producer).  Composers for the twelve songs on the recording are Ann Hampton Callaway; Milton Delugg (Orange Colored Sky, Just Another Polka); Mary Ehlinger; two-time Emmy® and five-time Grammy® Award-nominated entertainer Michael Feinstein; Stephen Fox;  Emmy® & Tony® Award-nominated composer Matthew Sklar (Elf, The Wedding Singer); and Emmy® Award-winning composer Wesley Whatley (Yes, Virginia, There’s A Santa Claus).

“A collection of new seasonal Christmas songs, with lyrics by two-time Emmy Award winner William Schermerhorn, interpreted by multi-platinum selling singer, Tony nominated actress, pianist and leading champion of the American songbook, Ann Hampton Callaway and featuring Gerald Albright, Jay Ashby, Michael Davis, Five Play, Hubert Laws, Chuck Loeb, New York Voices, Claudio Roditi, Ted Rosenthal, and Steve Wilson.

Well known as both an actress and a singer, Ann Hampton Callaway has also written several hundred songs of her own…for television, the stage, and some, of course, just for records and CDs. She’s written songs for everyone from Barbara Streisand to Carole King to Harvey Fierstein. That’s actually kind of my problem with her; its hard to know before you hear it what an Ann Hampton Callaway record will sound like. It could be that Broadway MOR stuff that I usually wouldn’t buy or it could be classic Jazz which I love and would DEFINITELY buy.

But look at that lineup of artists joining Ann for “The Hope Of Christmas”. You had me at Hubert Laws…..or Gerald Albright…..or Chuck Loeb….or the New York Voices. Heck, any of them. That’s a party I want to go to.

So I’ve got high hopes (though I’ll still wait to hear some samples). Every song on the album is new, so you don’t have to worry about “yet another version” of [insert least favorite Christmas song here].

Ann is not a stranger to holiday music. She released ‘This Christmas’ in 1998 (that was a good’un) and has appeared on numerous holiday collections and Christmas albums from other artists (most recently with sister Liz on ‘Merry & Bright’).” – Stubby’s House of Christmas

“A glorious gift of new music comes from Ann Hampton Callaway, a Tony-nominated Broadway and cabaret singer-songwriter with a genuine feel for jazz. Using impeccable phrasing, she infuses the music of The Hope Of Christmas (Manchester Craftsmen’s Guild 1042; 52:22 – 4 Stars) with refined jollity. The songs aren’t the usual Jack Frost lot. With the exception of one track, none of these songs have been available before. Callaway and New York cognoscenti like Michael Feinstein and Wesley Whatley did the songwriting – and the results are mainly exceptional. William Schermerhorn, a songwriter of wit and wise deliberation, penned the lyrics here, intelligently exploring the complex emotions in play during the holiday season. Arrangements by the Pittsburgh Jazz Orchestra’s Mike Tomaro and characterized by a warm, small-band sound and structural clarity. The talented musicians present – including Hubert Laws, Gerald Albright, Claudio Roditi, the Ted Rosenthal Trio and vocal quartet New York Voices – are pledged to decorum, leaving it to Callaway to supply the poignancy.” – Downbeat Magazine Holiday