Williams has gathered together remarkable vocalists to help him achieve his vision. Says Williams, “Every singer has their own sound and own approach. I chose singers that I thought would do the best job on each of the songs and I then arranged the songs to fit each singer’s style and vocal range.” The results are wonderful.
Those vocalists include Alex Stiles, Nate Bryant, Company B, Rebecca Lopez, Evon Collett, Connor Ross, Taylor Miranda, Hayley Kirkland, Dmitry Noskoiv, Benny Benack III, Chelsea Brooke Olson, and Julie Seechuck. Not only vocalists but instrumentalists, as well, were brought into the project, including the core trio of Williams on piano, Trey Henry on bass, and Bernie Dresel on drums and a brilliant array of horn players. The strings and additional woodwinds were contributed by the Budapest Scoring Orchestra.
Williams has divided the album of 40 pieces into two sections. The first is the 22 vocals songs with the remaining 18 as instrumental tracks. Two of the vocal tracks are composed by Williams himself. They are Coming Home and Someway, Somehow. While the instrumental tracks are reprised tracks of the vocal versions, Williams’s original are not reprised in the instrumental section.
Alex Stiles is the singer for It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year. So help me, I thought it was Andy Williams do the singing. Once I got past that, I was able to pay attention to the brilliant arranging for the instrumental score. Each and every one of the vocalists do, indeed, contribute a uniqueness that Williams beautifully exploits and the band simply nails every song.
Rebecca Lopez’s version of White Christmas is gorgeous. Her breathy delivery makes for a wonderfully wistful version of the song. And one pleasant introduction to an artist is Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas as sung by Russian singer Dmitry Noskov. Williams first discovered Noskov singing online and put Williams in mind of Sinatra. You can hear the reminiscence of Sinatra but Noskov brings something wonderfully distinctive. You can hear the clearly Russian intonation on some of the vowels and, so help me, it only makes the song more charming.
Chelsea Brooke Olson sings a back-to-back pair of songs about home, Home for the Holidays and I’ll Be Home for Christmas. Chelsea’s voice is incredibly sweet and is perfectly suited to these songs of home and holiday. The arrangement is fantastic and the results of such a pairing is warm and wonderful. Indeed, the whole album is a work of love and life.
Richard Williams’ Hollywood Christmas is a beautiful tribute to the holidays of winter. Remembering family, friends, and home is always something to be cherished and Williams has made us feel the very same warmth and love that he feels.
~Travis Rogers, Jr. is The Jazz Owl