Joyful Jazz (MCG Jazz)

Pittsburgh Jazz Orchestra

Released in 2015

DownBeat Four-Stars Review




When the PJO formed in 2010, the co-artistic directors, Sean Jones and Mike Tomaro, decided a holiday show would be a programming must. Now, the Pittsburgh Jazz Orchestra Holiday Celebration has become a tradition for families all over the greater Pittsburgh region as a way to escape the hustle and bustle of the holiday season. That tradition found a home at MCG Jazz. On Joyful Jazz, the Pittsburgh Jazz Orchestra renders a new treatment on holiday classics with wonder, bliss, and merriment. Special guest vocalist – Freddy Cole – provides his impeccable sense of swing, expressiveness, and elegance to the record.

Track Listing:

1. Jingle Bells 05:04

2. Jingles, the Christmas Cat (Ray Elbert Parker) 03:49

3. Carol of the Bells (Mykola Leontovych / Peter Wilhousky) 06:06

4. Blue Christmas (Billy Hayes / Jay W. Johnson) 07:19

5. A Cradle in Bethlehem (Alfred Bryan / Larry Stock) 06:21

6. Do You Hear What I Hear? (Noël Regney / Gloria Shayne) 04:02

7. It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year (Eddie Pola / George Wyle) 04:58

8. White Christmas (In the Sahara) (Irving Berlin) 06:37

9. Merry Christmas, John Coltrane (Mike Tomaro) 04:06

10. Snowfall (Claude Thornhill / Ruth Thornhill) 05:24

11. Sleigh Ride (Leroy Anderson) 04:59

12. The Christmas Song (Mel Tormé / Robert Wells) 03:59

13. Joy to the World 06:59


Sean Jones: co-conductor, co-artistic director, trumpet, flugelhorn

Mike Tomaro: co-conductor, co-artistic director, soprano, alto sax, flute, clarinet

Steve Hawk: trumpet, flugelhorn

James Moore: trumpet, flugelhorn

Kenny Rittenhouse: trumpet, flugelhorn

Curtis Johnson: alto sax, flute

Eric DeFade: tenor sax, flute, clarinet

Kenny Powell: tenor sax, clarinet

Brad Wagner: baritone sax (1-3, 9, 11, 12)

James Germann: baritone sax, bass clarinet (4-8, 10, 13)

Jeff Bush: trombone

Keith Jackson: trombone

Jay Ashby: trombone, percussion

Chris Carlson: bass trombone (1-3, 9, 11, 12)

Glenn Wayland: bass trombone (4-8, 10, 13)

Marty Ashby: classical and electric guitar

Alton Merrell: piano, keyboards

Paul Thompson: acoustic, electric bass

Thomas Wendt: drums

Lucas Ashby: percussion (3)

Maureen Budway: vocal (12)

Freddy Cole (special guest): vocals (2, 5, 8)

Producer: Marty Ashby

Recording Engineer: Jay Dudt
Recording Assistant: Stan Kleja
Additional Recording: Jay Ashby
Mixing Engineers: Jay Dudt, Jay Ashby
Mastering Engineer: Jay Dudt
Associate Producer: Renée Govanucci
Photography: Wade Massie
Cover Art and Design: Jeff O.Brien Myers


Also capable of swinging from the rafters of Santa’s wintry abode is the Pittsburgh Jazz Orchestra. On Joyful Jazz, these celebrants plumb standards and reveal fresh perspectives. Credit goes to several skilled soloists (including trumpeter Sean Jones and soprano saxophonist Mike Tomaro) and to a delightful combination of reeds and brass. Tomaro’s song “Merry Christmas, John Coltrane” is a life-affirming treat. Classy singer Freddy Cole’s presence on three obscure and delightful tunes is a blessing of the season.

Frank-John Hadley (DownBeat)