I have been a fan of Anita Baker from the beginning, and thinks she does what she has done very well, but I have felt that her sound has been a very predictable, non-chance-taking, mellow R&B type of music for awhile. It was very refreshing to see that she took this mostly jazzy turn on her Christmas offering, because I always thought she would be well suited to this type of music, both vocally and with her history of collaborating with some good "jazz" players on all her past albums. I have read some say that there is not a lot of Christmas feeling on this CD. Well, it doesn't have jingles jingling or choirs choiring (is that a word?) in the background, but it felt like a Christmas album to me!
I believe the thing is that it is a VERY jazzy Christmas album; it starts with the jazzy arrangements of the songs, then goes down to the fine musicians taking great solo turns with the arrangements, which finally allowed 'Nita B. the opportunity to serve up a more jazzy flavored vocal that some of her fans may not be so used to. I loved it!! I even thought the first track, "Frosty's Rag", was an interesting New Orleans flavored turn on the old Frosty the Snowman song, if for no other reason than it was SO different from anything she's done before. I always felt that she was similar to a Dianne Reeves, who throws down with anything between a deep jazz tune to a gospel type song to straight R&B.
Bottom line: if you are not a jazz fan and are looking for the same ol' same ol' from 'Nita, chances are you may possibly think this album is not so great and very un-Christmassy (I don't think that's a word either)! Well, that's a shame, because in my humble opinion, 'Nita and the musicians throw down with some jazzy stylings that hopefully she dips into a little bit in the future. And you know what, even if she DOES stick to the same ol' same ol' for the rest of her career, I'll still probably get all of her stuff anyway, because she's 'Nita B. I'll be a lil disappointed, but I'll always support. So do YOUR part, 'Nita B. Nation, if you all call yourselves FANS, and get this good music!!