By Catherine P. Lewis
Friday, December 7, 2012
The “lounge” in Chaise Lounge’s name is no accident: This local sextet plays a cool blend of jazz and lounge that’s as easy to listen to as it is to recline in a comfy chair. On the group’s new album, “A Very Chaise Lounge Christmas,” the band tackles traditional holiday classics, lesser-known covers and a few original compositions.
Coupled with arrangements by the group’s pianist, Charlie Barnett, singer Marilyn Older’s voice is charming here. Chaise Lounge’s versions of “Good King Wenceslas” and “The Little Drummer Boy” give a fresh pep to those overplayed songs, and Older’s take on “Mister Santa” (a holiday song with the “Mr. Sandman” melody) is delightfully sweet. Chaise Lounge revives an old Jimmy Charles hit, “Christmasville, U.S.A.,” with twinkling piano and sassy horns, and later gives a modern flair to the fun retro lyrics of Steve Allen’s “Cool Yule.”
Surprisingly for a holiday album, though, Chaise Lounge’s original songs are the most memorable. Barnett’s piano melody beautifully complements Older on the ballad “The Heart of December,” while the whole group conveys a lively restraint on the horn-filled “December 25.” But the most charming composition is “Snow Day,” which channels the joy of the holiday season with a youthful innocence that’s usually impossible to capture outside of the genre of children’s music.