Women lead the way in this collection of singers and pianists from the always-excellent Canadian jazz label. It's mostly made up of the old reliable numbers done in a mellow fireside mood, giving that most excellent late-night vibe, wrapping the last presents or enjoying an egg nog with just the right amount of holiday cheer in it.
Juno nominee Barbra Lica kicks things off with one of the only little-known cuts here, purrfect for you cats over dogs people. It turns out "Santa Claws" is what you heard creeping around the living room late at night, causing more havoc than ho-ho-ho. The Susie Arioli Swing Band do a bluesy, old-time job on "At The Christmas Ball," with some tasty licks and a great vocal. Then come the familiar tunes, but each has a new charm. Emma Frank's take on "I Wonder As I Wander" is delicate and dreamy, something to pause over. Ranee Lee digs into those fa-la-la's in "Deck The Halls," turning it into a genteel jazz performance.
Rounding out the disc are three piano leads by guys, one by the redoubtable label star Oliver Jones, and a couple from classical/jazz hybrid Matt Herskowitz, including a solo version of "O Holy Night" that starts out contemplative but takes off in the middle, with wonderful and thrilling runs around the melody. But with the nine vocal tracks from women, this set stands out as a showcase for the depth of female Canadian jazz talent around.