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"Christmas All the Way" with Accent

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    Posted: 16 Nov 2019 at 2:46pm

"These six singers exult something outstanding" -- DownBeat Magazine

ACCENT is one of the most exciting a cappella vocal groups to emerge in the past decade. Comprising six young men from diverse backgrounds, the group pays homage to older vocal styles while re-contextualizing songs with modern, fresh arrangements. Their newest CD, CHRISTMAS ALL THE WAY, is an ambitious project of Christmas music that takes the group in new and unexpected directions.
The group is truly unique in their make-up and recording process. The six band members are all residents of different countries: SIMON ÅKESSON is a tenor from Sweden; JEAN-BAPTISTE ("JB") CRAIPEAU, another tenor, is fromFrance; DANNY FONG and ANDREW KESLER are tenors from Canada; JAMES ROSE, a baritone, hails from theUnited Kingdom; and bass EVAN SANDERS is an American. Their love of vocal jazz brought them together online, and they collaborate via the Internet.
Since ACCENT's inception,they have garnered fans around the world with concerts in the U.S., Europe, Mexico, Asia, and Russia, and their popular YouTube videos have been viewed over two million times.
CHRISTMAS ALL THE WAY is ACCENT's fourth recording project. Their first three releases, Covers, Vol. 1 (2018), In This Together (2017), and Here We Are(2015) are master works of jazz vocal harmony. They are all trained instrumentalists, and their lush sound is embellished by their deep and innate musicality. There are no divas in the group. Their work is a collective effort that focuses on their tight arrangements and concerted sonority.
On their previous recordings, they presented original, jazz and "jazzified" pop tunes arranged by the band. On CHRISTMAS ALL THE WAY, the band decided to expand their palette by engaging other arrangers and including big band and string arrangements as well their impeccable a cappella fare. Additional vocals by ESTONIAN VOICES, a popular European vocal group, JO GOLDSMITH-ETESON, a member of the UK group, The Swingles, and SAM ROBSON, a widely recognized YouTube artist from London, add new colors to their rich soundscape.
ACCENT's music harkens to familiar styles. The Hi-Lo's, a close-harmony vocal quartet popular in the 1950s and early 1960s, are a major influence on the group's style. But ACCENT's approach is far more modern, combining swinging jazz with pop and R&B elements.
 The band worked with some of the top instrumental arrangers in the business. JORGE CALANDRELLI, who has won six Grammy awards and has been nominated for two Oscars, has been a supporter of the group for several years. Although the group has previously written all their own vocal arrangements, they were thrilled that Calandrelli asked to write both the orchestral and vocal arrangements for "I'll Be Home for Christmas." The tune features strings performed by THE BUDAPEST SCORING ORCHESTRA, as does another song on this disc. The orchestra is widely used in the film industry and can also be heard on recordings by artists such as Stevie Wonder, Michael Bublé, and Al Jarreau, to name a few.
GORDON GOODWIN'S BIG PHAT BAND is featured on two iconic Christmas tunes, "It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year" and "Let It Snow! Let It Snow! Let It Snow!" GORDON GOODWIN wrote the instrumental arrangement to "It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year" and shares the vocal arrangement credit with ACCENT's Simon Åkesson. ELLIOT DEUTSCH, one of the young stars in the field of jazz composing and arranging, wrote the orchestral arrangement for "Let It Snow! Let It Snow! Let It Snow!" Åkesson wrote the vocal arrangement for this tune as well. The song also features a trumpet solo by ARTURO SANDOVAL.
NAN SCHWARTZ, the Grammy-winning and seven-time Emmy-nominated composer, wrote the sumptuous orchestral arrangement for "O Holy Night." The vocal arrangement is by JB Craipeau and features the legendary Hollywood harpist GAYLE LEVANT.
"Winter Winds" is an original song composed by James Rose. The song has an ethereal feel and features Estonian Voices as well as Goldsmith-Eteson and Robson. The band also wanted to thank patrons who helped with crowdfunding for this project, so they invited several backers to participate on the chorus at end of the tune.
The band performs a sweet and gentle version of "The Christmas Song." Arranged by Åkesson, it features a lilting clarinet solo by DON SHELTON, also a former member of The Hi-Los.
Andrew Kesler's arrangement adds some funk to"A Holly Jolly Christmas." GEORGE SHELBY, who has a long resume playing with top name performers including Phil Collins and on dozens of films and television shows, tears it up with a sax solo reminiscent of the Yellowjackets. WALTER RODRIGUEZ provides percussion.
In keeping with the international flavor of ACCENT, the band sings two a cappella numbers: "Jul, Jul, Strålande Jul" in Swedish, arranged by Åkesson, and "Petit Papa Noël" in French, arranged by Craipeau. "Petit Papa Noël" is the best-selling single of all time in France.
ACCENT has dedicated the album to the late Pat Williams, the Oscar-nominated American composer, arranger, and conductor and a friend of the band. Though Williams and ACCENT had set out to work on a project together a few years ago, Williams sadly passed away before it came to fruition. In Williams' memory, ACCENT will donate a portion of the proceeds from the project to a scholarship fund set up in his honor by the organization Musicians at Play.
CHRISTMAS ALL THE WAY will be available on October 18, 2019 in stores and online everywhere.
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