Thursday, December 24, 2015

Various Artists-This Christmas: A Traditional Freestyle Christmas, Vol. 1 (2010)

ORIGINAL POSTING DATE: December 24, 2015

Traditional treats during this time of year are always in order, and I've got one that's double the pleasure for the Freestyle fans out there! This particular compilation unites some of the most popular figures from the underground phenomenon that Freestyle music has been over the decades—including a few personal favorite of mine, of course—for a soulful forty-minute presentation of holiday classics for your listening ears. I've never heard this lady in my past Freestyle listenings—at least I don't believe I have, as she very well may have been a member of a girl group?—but Veronica Jackson puts a sweet, sultry touch on her rendition of "O' Holey Night" to kick off this Freestyle Christmas celebration. That notion about being a member of a girl group should be saved, instead, for Evelyn Escalera, who was one of the faces of THE COVER GIRLS and performs her charming and warming piano take on "Grown Up Christmas List". Lydia Gonzalez: no idea where she comes from, but her shrill voice is lovely—quite powerful against the cuddly, twinkly instrumentals backing her up on her rendering of "White Christmas", I must say. And we all know the 80's crossover-pop diva Brenda K. Starr, who puts a smooth r&b touch on "Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas" (I like how this one starts off nice and slow before the tempo picks up after the midway break). As for the Freestyle guys..... So nice to see the FORCE M.D.'s represented here, and I absolutely adore their jazzed-up take on "This Christmas", highlighted by their ad-libbed vocal harmony in both the intro and outro sequences. I've heard possibly the best pop version of "Hark The Herald Angels Sing", now that I heard Coro's version on Track #2. Coro would be one of the favorite Freestyle artists that I alluded to in the beginning of this review; the second would be George Lamond, and it's his casual, jazzy slow-jam offering of "Silent Night" that I can add to my list of favorites by him! Then my other favorite Freestyle artist represented here? That would be the talented trio that called itself TKA, except for this special holiday party, they've all decided to perform solo. 'K7' delivers a respectable rendering of "Little Drummer Boy" (always a nice touch when there are accompanying drum beats in the production of this traditional classic) while Aby Cruz delivers "Winter Wonderland" and Angel Vasquez performs the fun classic "Nuttin' For Christmas" (a stylized alternative spelling of "Nothing For Christmas"), complete with jingle bells and his beautiful mellow vocals. So take some free time to enjoy this Freestyle gift that I've shared with you and make your Merry Christmas even merrier:

1. Veronica Jackson - O' Holey Night
2. Coro - Hark The Herald Angels Sing
3. Brenda K. Starr - Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas
4. Lisette Melendez - Santa Baby
5. Force M.D.'s - This Christmas
6. George Lamond - Silent Night
7. K7 - Little Drummer Boy
8. Angel Vasquez - Nuttin' For Christmas
9. Lydia Gonzalez - White Christmas
10. Aby Cruz - Winter Wonderland
11. Evelyn Escalera - Grown Up Christmas List
12. James 'Da Barba' - The Christmas Song

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