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Capping an extraordinarily prolific decade of sonically innovative releases featuring ensembles of L.A.'s top-tier musicians and recording engineers, K-JAZZ (KKJZ 88.1 FM)'s 2018 Female Vocalist of the year Lyn Stanley releases her 2022 wildly ambitious, stylistically eclectic "really big band" holiday album Novel Noel - A Jingle Cool Jazz Celebration with two enticing lead singles that collectively capture the joyful whimsy and lush, soulful romance at the heart of the 13-track recording - a sly, spirited romp through "Zat You Santa Claus?" (which starts with her hilarious, dead-on impression of Louis Armstrong) and a dreamily sensual contemporary twists on the iconic Jule Styne/Sammy Cahn classic "It's Magic", originally popularized in the late '40s by Doris Day. To make Novel Noel a special holiday release, Lyn commissioned original illustrations for each song.
Continuing her longstanding fruitful relationship with the high-end audiophile world, Lyn is pleased to announce the release of an SACD-Hybrid disc authored by audio guru Gus Skinas.
"I was driven to record this by my fans, who had been asking me, 'Where's your holiday album?'" says Lyn, who released her eighth album in 2020-2021, the critically acclaimed Live at Studio A, recorded at the famed Capitol Recording Studios, in June 2020. "Originally, I thought about doing a winter solstice themed collection, and my vision was to try to cover all holidays, not just Christmas, celebrated by a variety of religions and traditions that time of year. I wanted to create a perennial recording that my fans around the world could enjoy. Over time, however, the project evolved to secular and Santa songs plus a handful of non-holiday classics that to me also capture the range of emotions people feel around the holidays."
"Among the festive aspects," she adds, "the season can also leave people feeling lonely if they've lost someone or are not with family and friends. This was especially true last Christmas, during the pandemic. On the celebratory side, I chose 'Come Dance with Me' not only as an ode to my other life as a former amateur champion ballroom dancer, but because when I was younger, I loved to go dancing on New Year's Eve. I added a poignant introduction to Cole Porter's 'I Concentrate On You' to convey the need to think of something joyful to combat loneliness and enjoyed performing 'The Way You Look Tonight' from the female perspective, complete with a playful Santa reference towards the end. I added 'Moonlight in Vermont' as a special nod to an audiophile fan who lives there."
True to its title, Novel Noel - A Jingle Cool Jazz Celebration includes unique, must-hear anew arrangements of classics we've known and loved for years, from "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas" and "Christmas Waltz" (done in a faster paced Viennese Waltz style) to "Little Drummer Boy - Jazz Version" (which features the spirited piano/bass 5/4 tempo vamp a la "Take 5" throughout, plus a powerful 32-bar jazz drum solo by Bernie Dresel), an amped up twist on the post WWII classic "Boogie Woogie Santa Claus", a lively Latin swing through "Merry Christmas Darling" and a gracefully rendered "Mary Did You Know". The collection also includes a beautiful, spiritually themed original ballad by Lyn titled "Holy Night".
Marking Lyn's first time producing a big band project (she's produced seven of her last albums with fewer players), Novel Noel was recorded at two legendary facilities, The Village in Santa Monica, CA and Ocean Way in Nashville (with additional vocal production at LAfx in Burbank, CA), mixed at The Village and Skywalker Ranch and mastered by another iconic industry force, Bernie Grundman Mastering. The album is an expansive sonic masterwork featuring the contributions of five credited arrangers (including Lyn herself), a 13-piece horn section, four total conductors and strings by Budapest Scoring, Inc. in Hungary. The rhythm section includes guitarist and leader John Chiodini, upright bassist Chuck Berghofer and percussionist Luis Conte, all members of Lyn's longtime core band, affectionately dubbed "The Jazz Mavericks", now re-dubbed "Big Band Jazz Mavericks"; pianists Bill Cunliffe, Christian Jacob and Pat Coil; drummer Bernie Dresel; and drummer and percussionist Aaron Serfaty. Rickey Woodward is the featured saxophonist.
Novel Noel was recorded by a team of several of the industry's most renowned engineers, including five time Grammy winner Allen Sides (Natalie Cole, Joni Mitchell, Eric Clapton, Ray Charles), two time Grammy winner and Emmy winner Bill Schnee (Steely Dan, Rod Stewart, Barry Manilow), five time Grammy winner Leslie Ann Jones (Miles Davis, Quincy Jones, Herbie Hancock), Spencer Guerra, Playback Designs Founder Andreas Koch and DSD Audio Pioneer Gus Skinas.
In mastering the two 45rpm LPs, Bernie Grundman used the final stereo mixes that were recorded straight onto tape from the custom-made Neve analog board at Skywalker Sound. To create the digital files, the same stereo mixes from the analog board were fed to a Playback Designs Pinot analog to digital converter. The output from the Pinot was then used to generate the 24-bit 192kHz PCM and the double DSD files. This digital output was also used to create the 5.1 immersive surround sound mixes for each track.
In Lyn's colorful liner notes, describing the extraordinary journey of creating and developing Novel Noel, she writes, "It survived one of the most horrific events of our lifetime, mainly a worldwide pandemic that sidetracked the train of life for most of us." In addition to the opportunity to, as she says, "center our efforts in love and new beginnings," an impactful silver lining musicians being sidelined from the road during the year of quarantine was their availability to have what Allen Sides calls "every amazing player in L.A." available for the sessions at The Village.
Sides, who has helmed scores of logistically complex big band sessions throughout his career, comments on the sonic challenges necessitated by COVID-19 protocols at The Village, where most of the album was tracked: "Having musicians separated from one another could be difficult because recording the elements of a horn section in four individual parts sounds nothing like having all of them in the same room at the same time. The same is true with trombone and woodwinds. So, what we did was put the four trumpeters spaced apart from one another, on one riser, and the four trombonists on a riser below them. We used three isolated studios simultaneously, putting drummer Bernie Dresel in one, bassist Chuck Berghofer, saxophonist Rickey Woodard and Lyn in another, and the horns in the third, known as the Moroccan Room."
"This record is a true audiophile project," Sides adds, "with a very high sampling rate for digital and quality reel tape for analog, it sounds like it was done 35 years ago when budgets were at a premium for these kinds of sessions. Most of the mics we used were vintage tube condenser mics from the '50s and '60s. I can't say enough about the musicians on the project. Chuck is to me the greatest bassist in the world, the trumpet players were beyond imagination, and everyone on the sessions had such great fun getting out and participating on what I believe is one of the greatest big band records I've ever heard. I have a fondness for the genre, and it was truly a privilege to work with Lyn and these musicians to bring her vision to life."
Lyn says she and her large team of musicians and engineers worked joyfully together to make Novel Noel - A Jingle Cool Jazz Celebration a dynamic new addition to the classical big band catalog tradition. "I truly hope it will touch people's hearts, religious or not, for their holiday seasons and beyond," she adds. "I think it's a classy, sophisticated, unique, and fun album. I hope it's added to purchasers' favorite music shelf."
The 2022 Global Music Awards announced in July 2022 that Novel Noel had received five medals - three GOLD Medals (Female Vocalist, Producer and Album) and two SILVER Medals for Lyn's original song, "Holy Night" (Female Vocalist, Holiday Music).
While not the strictest Christmas record, it not only brings cheer to the holidays but you'd be hard pressed to prove this session didn't come about because Sinatra slipped Basie and Riddle a few bucks to do the right thing for this kid. The new [Lyn Stanley] cornerstone in a growing, glowing discography, trust me, this is all the Christmas music you need for this year.
I've been enjoying the album [Novel Noel-A Jingle Cool Jazz Celebration] tremendously. The arrangements are spot-on, and I like how they evoke for me a sort of golden era of arrangements and production. [Lyn's] delivery is excellent, and the recording is so good that it really stands out. I listen to a lot of records that sound good but not that good.
Every year I get holiday stuff to review, and every year I swear will be my last. But this is Lyn Stanley, and that means a few things. First, this is an album for audiophiles. There aren't a lot of jazz artists who care more about ultimate sound quality than she does, so it's probably gonna sound awesome any time of year. But here's another somewhat surprising aspect - Novel Noel isn't Lyn trying on a few holiday covers to see if they fit. Lyn Stanley and her Big Band Jazz Mavericks - an impressive gathering of jazz performers - have some 'novel' ideas about song selection and arrangements. So while you may identify a few elegant classics here and there such as 'Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas,' 'Merry Christmas Darling' and 'The Christmas Waltz,' this album takes a journey down some strange and wonderful avenues that aren't necessarily covered with gaudy, impersonal decorations... The arrangements on Novel Noel are stunning. Lyn is usually inventive and doesn't mind a little genre-hopping, but here she's indulging in some truly creative choices, such as mashing up 'The Little Drummer Boy' with Brubeck's 'Take Five,' and finding out how naturally they meld together. Novel Noel still sees Lyn with her devoted and veteran ensemble with guitarist John Choidini leading the way. But 66 musicians play with Lyn on this album, including a lush string orchestra that lends a magical sense of scale to the album.
Vocalist Lyn Stanley ironically calls her ensemble the Big Band Jazz Mavericks when it is she who is the maverick, the evidence being how seamlessly she expands the holiday canon on Novel Noël: A Jingle Jazz Celebration. Over the past decade, Stanley has done two significant things: one, she has methodically and with carefully considered concepts addressed the Great American Songbook, and, two, she has become a foremost audiophile, sweating all of the small stuff. This added attention and effort pays off in her superb holiday offering. Originally intended for release in 2021, personal and global circumstances changed the project's trajectory. Six of the 13 selections were released under the same title. The entire package was worth the wait. Stanley spikes the eggnog with vintage, 100-proof nostalgia, recalling the swinging 1950s. The opening track, 'Zat You Santa Claus' sets the tone for the entire release, with Stanley echoing Pops before launching into the most sophisticated and swinging updates of the song. Eartha Kitt may own 'Santa, Baby,' but Stanley one-ups that performance with this playful and festive steal from Satchmo. 'Little Drummer Boy' is mashed up with 'Take Five' and 'Mary Did You Know' receives a stark and plaintive reading. Stanley deftly slides into the playlist standards made for the holidays: 'Come Dance With Me,' 'It's Magic,' and 'The Way You Look Tonight' sound as if they have been in the holiday canon all along; what Stanley shows us is that they have been. It is fitting that this recording is the best the singer has imagined and recorded. This is what Christmas is about.
- Audiophile Recording
- Super Audio CD
- SACD Multi-Channel SACD Layer
- SACD Stereo SACD Layer
- This Hybrid SACD contains a 'Red Book' Stereo CD Layer which is playable on most conventional CD Players!
- Immersive 5.1 Surround Sound
- 44.1/16bit, 192/34bit/Single 126 DSD
- Recorded (with Strict COVID-19 Protocols) at The Village in Los Angeles and Ocean Way Nashville; Additional Vocal Production at LAFX
- Lyn Stanley's Vocals Recorded on a Neumann U47 Microphone
- Mixed at Skywalker Sound
- Engineering Team: Leslie Ann Jones, Bill Schnee, Allen Sides, Spencer Guerra, Bernie Grundman
- SACD Authored by Gus Skinas
- DSD Files by Engineer Andreas Koch of Playback Designs & Dann Thompson
- Winner of Five 2022 Global Music Awards
|Chuck Berghofer||upright bass|
|Aaron Serfaty||drums, percussion|
|Rickey Woodard||tenor sax|
|Pat Coil||piano (Nashville sessions)|
|Kerry Marx||guitar (Nashville sessions)|
|Eric Darkin||percussion (Nashville sessions)|
|Daniel O'Lannerghty||bass (Nashville sessions)|
|Robert Bruster||(Nashville sessions)|
|Sal Lorenzo||saxophone, flute|
|Kristen Edkins||saxophone, flute|
|Tom Leur||saxophone, flute|
|Jay Mason||saxophone, flute|
|Brian Scanlon||saxophone, flute|
|Windy Wagner||background vocals|
|Budapest Scoring, Inc.||strings|
|Peter Illenyi||strings conductor|
- Zat You Santa Claus?
- Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas
- Come Dance with Me
- Little Drummer Boy - Jazz Version
- It's Magic
- The Way You Look Tonight
- I Concentrate On You
- Christmas Waltz
- Boogie Woogie Santa Claus
- Moonlight In Vermont
- Merry Christmas, Darling
- Holy Night (Bonus Track)
- Mary Did You Know? (Bonus Track)