BC Blogcritics

For a set of elegant Christmas classics, perfect for holiday parties or gatherings, look no further than Seattle-based jazz vocalist Lisa Fox and her new Winter Wonder. The tone is warm and the arrangements simple. Backed primarily by a trio that includes Eric Verlinde (piano), Rick Leppanen (bass), and Chris Patin (drums), Fox takes us on a 12-song journey through holiday favorites.

The track list includes a few lesser-known surprises, such as “Merry Christmas Darling” (a holiday hit for The Carpenters in 1970). Fox also delivers a soothing “A Christmas Love Song,” previously recorded by Barbra Streisand. Moving along at a comfortably swinging mid-tempo are a pair of duets (with Clipper Anderson) on tune that, while not technically Christmas-themed, have become holiday favorites: “I’ve Got My Love to Keep Me Warm” and “Baby It’s Cold Outside.”  Lisa Fox exhibits exquisite phrasing on classic ballads, including “Silent Night” and “I’ll Be Home for Christmas,” the latter benefiting from a lushly melodic saxophone solo. Another ace ballad, “Christmas Time is Here” (originally written by Vince Guaraldi for the 1965 Peanuts special, A Charlie Brown Christmas), features tender piano work by Verlinde. In fact, Verlinde’s lines are highlights throughout (the pianist also served as the album’s arranger).

The playing is consistently tasteful (another guest, Laura Lagerstedt, provides supportive additional vocals on select tracks). “It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas” is a danceable, up-tempo rendition that—like the entire album—perfectly evokes the good cheer of the holiday season.

To purchase Lisa Fox’s Winter Wonder, highly recommended for anyone seeking a new addition to their holiday music rotation, visit CD Baby (available as a physical CD or download). Alternatively, the album is available at Seattle’s Easy Street Records. A concert to celebrate the release of Winter Wonder takes place at Tula’s in Seattle, December 22 (visit Tula’s website for information).

Seattlepi.com

The title track opens the album with great style, establishing a very relaxed mood. Darin Clendenin's piano dominates instrumentally, carrying Fox's vocal with sturdy comping. That gives way to the rich saxophone of Jay Thomas, which introduces an effortless take on "The Very Thought Of You." Thomas' sax drifts in and out of the tune, weaving perfectly with Fox. The tempo kicks up considerably with a jaunty run through Antonio Carlos Jobim's classic bossa nova "Agua De Beber." The very dexterous fingers of Clipper Anderson work their way through an exceptional bass line that anchors the track.

The varied rhythmic textures of "Alone Together" provide a highlight of the album. Fox glides smoothly over the band, her falsetto clear as glass. Special note must be made of Mark Ivester's percussion playing, which helps keep this particular performance unpredictable. The instrumental work throughout the entire album is very tasteful. They are truly providing support for the vocals, rather than indulging themselves. In addition to sax, Jay Thomas contributestrumpet and flugel horn on several tracks.

The only misfires come with the pop tunes that appear late in the album's tracklist. These songs, Sting's "Fields Of Gold" and Sarah McLachlan's "Angel," feel out of place among the Great American Songbook selections that otherwise dominate. While both are well sung and played, their middle of the road pop atmosphere detracts from the overall coherence of the album. Luckily these diversions do nothing to sink the consistent listenability of the work as a whole.

Lisa Fox shines especially on the ballads, most notably on "The Nearness Of You" and "You've Changed." Her delicate approach focuses attention on the timeless beauty of the melodies. Some of these are songs that have arguably been done to death, but when handled just right they still work every time. That's the case throughout Watch What Happens, an album highly recommended for fans of vocal jazz.

Kiro 710

"Lisa Fox sings with the sensibility and vitality of the great vocalists of our time... In any musical style or genre, she delivers!"

91.3 KBCS

"Lisa is a gifted performer with wonderful talent. As one of Seattle's very own, her music is a real inspiration."