There was no way I wasn’t going to devote one of my top 25 Christmas album posts to Renée Fleming’s new record. If you recognize her name at all, it’s because she was the national anthem singer at the most recent Superbowl, but she’s better known for her work in opera and the classical music realm––which made it quite a surprise to find that her Christmas album, Christmas in New York, falls completely into the genre of jazz.
I knew I was going to love it as soon as I heard her rich, resonant classically-trained voice crooning (yes, crooning) the opening line to “Winter Wonderland.” I never thought I would love to hear Renaynay scatting, but the pairing of her vocal color and Wynton Marsalis on trumpet was perfect and set the tone for the whole album. The track list includes classics like “Sleigh Ride,” “Silver Bells,” and “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas,” and some less Christmasy but still fitting tunes like “Snowbound,” “Central Park Serenade,” and “Who Knows Where the Time Goes.”
In my mind, the stand-out track is “In the Bleak Midwinter,” which Renée sings as a duet with Rufus Wainwright. She lets her classical voice out to play a little bit more here, especially on the high notes. It’s hard not to love the arrangement with acoustic guitar and cello accompaniment, and I may or may not have listened to it a few times on repeat before moving on to the rest of the album.
All in all, this is a great album to check out if you enjoy either jazz or Renée Fleming in general. There’s enough classical infusion for me to be able to recognize her voice, but definitely a fun, relatable sound for you Ella-lovers out there (and those of you who aren’t normally fans of classical music or opera). I know it sounds sort of cheesy, but you really can’t help feeling the romance of New York City at Christmastime.
- Day 4: Neil Diamond – The Christmas Album
- Day 3: Vince Guaraldi Trio – A Charlie Brown Christmas
- Day 2: Sufjan Stevens – Songs For Christmas
- Day 1: Bing Crosby – Christmas Classics