World & Latin

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Latin Yule Love

17 DEC 07 JOHN C. BRUENING

If you live in a part of the world where the holidays come with snow and cold temperatures, a few spins of Latin Jazz Christmas are likely to melt a few icicles.

Six of the most prominent figures on the current Latin scene -- Ed Calle, Caribbean Jazz Project, Sheila E., Pete Escovedo, Poncho Sanchez and Arturo Sandoval -- and an army of equally formidable session players gather under the mistletoe on this 2002 collection to deliver some yuletide cheer with a generous dose of Latin seasoning.

All the Christmas standards are here, beginning with a spirited reading of "Jingle Bells," courtesy of Calle and Sandoval, along with pianist Jim Gasior. The Caribbean Jazz project weighs in with easygoing renditions of "Sleigh Ride," "Angels We Have Heard On High" and "Silent Night," while Poncho Sanchez brings the horns to the fore in rhythmic versions of "What Child Is This?" and "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas."

Other highlights include Sheila E.'s sexy delivery of "Santa Baby," a family affair with an infectious cha-cha groove provided by Sheila on percussion, Pete Escovedo on timbales and Juan Escovedo on congas; and the understated rumba energy of "God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen," with Calle's gentle flute work moving the melody forward. And of course, there's no escaping a Latin Christmas without a rendition of the classic "Feliz Navidad," delivered here by Pete Escovedo on vocals and timbales.

This season, turn the heat up under your chestnuts and dig the Latin groove for Christmas.