REVIEW OF HOLIDAY SINGLE "OH HOLY NIGHT":
"Another new twist on an old fave, Planet9 enlist the services of vocalist extraodinaire Sheryl Lee Ralph and elevates "Oh Holy Night" to one special place. From the very cool arrangement, horns thatll make you take notice and a vocal arrangement that kills, youll want to add this to your holiday collection immediately."
Friday Morning Quarterback
Bruce E Von Stiers
Indeed, you could be listening to any of the top smooth jazz bands on O Come Emmanuel the guitar and sax both sound like big-league players. We Three Kings and Away in a Manger are given a similarly inventive treatment.
Who are these talented guys? Why are there only six tracks? Will Santa bring me a copy of the finished CD? Watch this space
Planet9 is an unusual jazz group, so you can await an unusual Christmas album. Although the album contains Christmas [classics], Planet9 understands [how] to give these hymns a new turn. If you haven't had the opportunity to attend one of their gigs, you can listen to the downloadable soundsample "God Rest Ye" at www.smoothjazz.com.
God Rest Ye starts with Drew's contemplative acoustic guitar melody. Surprisingly the song changes into a Latin-flavored jazzy jam. Good King W starts with a fresh tablas rhythm [which bridges] to the central theme. Planet9 knows to produce a groovy tune out of an old dusty hymn.
Silent Night has a high recognition factor. [It may be that] some chinese rice workers have never heard this melody, [but] the rest of the world knows it. The acoustic guitar is the best instrument to express the lead theme. Together with the brass section, choir and Charlie DeChant's dreamy sax the tune obtains an entertaining character. O Come Emmanuel starts as a [Mambo] with some Salsa flava. Astonishing transformation-work, a small swing break in the middle of tune gives this tune the necessary condiment.
We Three Kings is without doubt a really popular Christmas song. All music guide lists 377 versions of this piece. Planet9 presents a dynamic propulsing rendition of this holiday classic. Away In The Manger has [had many great interpretations by greats] like Nat King Cole. Plan 9 are swinging terrificly in their Bossa style.
Still being gift wrapped [at the time of the interview] are: It Came Upon A Midnight Clear, What Child Is This and The Christmas Sweet. This album isn't just a Christmas album. If you just want something to get you in the right mood (the holiday mood), take it. But this album is something for all seasons.
God Rest Ye - This little number received over 950,000 downloads on SmoothJazz.com's website in a six week period preceding Christmas 2001.
Good King W - One reviewer said "The Indian percussion is a surprise on Good King W - how come it works so well?" Another reviewer said "Planet9 knows to produce a groovy tune out of an old dusty hymn".
Silent Night - We can't deny the "Barry White" factor in this arrangement. One reviewer compared the track to something from the Crusaders (we'll take that comparison - thanks!), and complimented Drew's Larry Carlton style acoustic guitar work.
Oh Come Emmanuel - OK, so it's a Mambo, but could you imagine a more joyous way to reinvent this old hymn? Check out the swing section in the middle which a foreign reviewer called "a necessary condiment..." We think we like that compliment...
We Three Kings - what do you get when you combine the feel of "Everyone One Wants to Rule The World" with on old English holiday standard? You get a 6/8 Earth, Wind and Fire-style groovin' good time!
It Came Upon A Midnight Clear - A pushin' jazz waltz version with a brand new bridge gives this a cool new look at this classic.
Away In A Manger - Featuring an introduction on bass, this Bossa-style interpretation was cited by critics for its "inventive treatment".
What Child Is This - Drew's arrangement of this is similar in spirit to last year's hit "God Rest Ye" but features an outstanding "Doc Severson" style trumpet work throughout.
The Christmas Suite - featuring quotations from "Angels We Have Heard on High", "Oh Come All Ye Faithful", and "Joy To The World", this suite also features the first (that we know of) drum solo on a instrumental jazz Holiday release.
THE BONUS TRACKS
Fa La La (Deck The Halls) - It starts with Manhattan Transfer style vocals, and breaks into a Doobie Brothers inspired romp through this English Christmas classic.
Santa Sweet - what can we say? The combination of the big band treatment of "Jolly Old St. Nicholas", and the boogie-woogie adaptation of "Up On The Rooftop" (written by the same fellow in the 1840's - by the way...) just made us smile. Check out Charlie DeChant's BariSax solo, and the plunger cornet solo.
Broadway, Film & TV star Sheryl Lee Ralph
sings her #5 seasonal hit "Oh Holy Night"
with the band.
Oh Holy Night - (featuring guest vocalist Sheryl Lee Ralph) - Planet9's addition to the 2004 Holiday Season! Imagine the Beach Boys decide to spend the holidays in Rio! Now throw in the Planet9 "twist". Friday Morning Quarterback said "from the very cool arrangement, horns thatll make you take notice and a vocal arrangement that kills...[Planet9] elevates "Oh Holy Night" to one special place"