Dec 12, 2011
First posted in December 2009:
One of the nicest musical surprises of this holiday season is Alexis Cole's latest CD, The Greatest Gift. If you're looking for that last minute gift, stocking stuffer or digital download, this is the place to go for some heartfelt holiday jazz.
Born the child of two deaf parents, Alexis is a Jazzmobile competition winner as a vocalist, and was an award winner at the Montreux Jazz Voice Competition. She is currently the lead singer for the West Point Jazz Knights, the US Army's big band.
Rather than simply record traditional arrangments of her favorite Christmas music, Alexis has reinvented many of them with great results. Think of "God Rest Ye Merry Gentleman" as a blues number, or "Silent Night" as performed by Eric Dolphy. This is highly accompished music, and well worth the time to track it down.
One of the most refreshing aspects of the CD is Alexis' decision to wear her Christian beliefs are on her sleeve, and not, as the sloganeers say, take Christ out of Christmas. There is a decidedly religious bent to these songs, particularly "Jesus is the Best Part of Christmas". This is an antidote to commercialism if there ever was.
Alexis is using funds from the sales of the CD to support her favorite charity, World Bicycle Relief. The organization is dedicated to previding bicycles to individuals in developing countries around the world, to give access to transportation and promote independence, empowerment, and sustainability. Sounds like a good cause to me.