The Hope Of Christmas (MCG Jazz)

Ann Hampton Callaway

Released in 2015

DownBeat Four-Stars Review




The Hope Of Christmas is a new collection of Christmas songs interpreted by multiplatinum-selling singer, Tony nominated actress, pianist and leading champion of the American songbook, Ann Hampton Callaway, with lyrics by two-time Emmy® Award winner William Schermerhorn, and featuring twenty-nine of the world’s best jazz musicians, including Five Play, New York Voices, Hubert Laws, Claudio Roditi, Gerald Albright, The Ted Rosenthal Trio and more. The eighteen-month collaboration between singer, lyricist and record producer to bring THE HOPE OF CHRISTMAS to the public has kept the holiday season and its inspiring message at the forefront for the many artists involved. Starting with a list of approximately thirty songs, the Ashby-Callaway-Schermerhorn team ultimately came up with the dozen songs (including two brand-new compositions by Callaway/Schermerhorn) that make up the playlist.
With the exception of the Emmy® nominated song I BELIEVE, which was first performed by Kermit the Frog and released as a single with Kermit the Frog and Disney star Tiffany Thornton, the songs on THE HOPE OF CHRISTMAS recording will be available to the public for the first time in these dynamic, all-new jazz arrangements by Jay Ashby, Marty Ashby, Callaway and Mike Tomaro.
“Christmas music, in all its styles, touches the heart like no other music I know,” says William Schermerhorn. “For over two decades, I have been blessed to have the opportunity to tell new Christmas stories for a wide variety of events through the lyrics of my songs. It’s a gift to now hear these songs interpreted by Ann Hampton Callaway and the extraordinary jazz musicians that Marty Ashby has assembled for this recording. Knowing that proceeds from the sale of this recording benefit MCG Jazz to carry out its mission is like having extra tinsel to make the holiday season shine even brighter.”
“MCG Jazz is honored to be a part of this important project,” says Marty Ashby. “Bill Schermerhorn’s lyrics are such a powerful representation of the spirit of the holiday season and there is no one more elegant than Ann Hampton Callaway to deliver the message in a most profound way.”
Reflecting on this collaboration, Ann Hampton Callaway comments that “Singing and composing music for this collection of Bill Schermerhorn’s new holiday songs has been a joy and an honor. Since music has the power to open hearts and unite us, may the spirit of this record inspire each listening heart to bring more love to each day, so that the season of love can last all year round!

Track Listing:

1. On Union Street (A Christmas Toast) (William Schermerhorn / Wesley Whatley) 04:13

2. The Hope of Christmas (Ann Hampton Callaway / William Schermerhorn) 04:12

3. One Star (Stephen Fox / William Schermerhorn) 04:35

4. Discovery (William Schermerhorn / Wesley Whatley) 05:12

5. I Believe (William Schermerhorn / Wesley Whatley) 03:46

6. I Saw a Sparrow (William Schermerhorn / Matthew Sklar) 03:19

7. Santa Doesn’t Like Me (William Schermerhorn / Matthew Sklar) 03:35

8. Christmas Isn’t Christmas at All (Milton Delugg / William Schermerhorn) 04:46

9. I Want to Play Santa (William Schermerhorn / Wesley Whatley) 04:26

10. What Good Is Being Cranky (When It’s Christmas Time) (Mary Ehlinger / William Schermerhorn) 04:01

11. My Gift of Thanks (Michael Feinstein / William Schermerhorn) 04:22

12. Fly With the Angels (Ann Hampton Callaway / William Schermerhorn) 05:47


Ann Hampton Callaway: vocals

Gerald Albright: alto sax (5)

Jay Ashby: percussion, background vocals, trombone (12)

Marty Ashby: banjo, 12-string guitar, classical guitar

Alexander Cummings: alto sax

Jami Dauber: flugelhorn, trumpet

Michael Davis: trombone

James Genus: bass

Noriko Ueda: bass

Martin Wind: bass

Tim Horner: drums

Five Play

Hubert Laws: flute (6)

Chuck Loeb: guitar (11)

Lucas Ashby: percussion

New York Voices: vocals (2, 4)

Claudio Roditi: trumpet (10)

Ted Rosenthal: piano

Steve Wilson: soprano saxophone (3)

Peter Eldridge: vocals

Lauren Kinham: vocals

Darmon Meader: vocals

Kim Nazarian: vocals

James Moore: trumpet

Tomoko Ono: piano

Mike Tomaro: tenor sax

George Perilli: drums

Mark Walker: drums

Alon Yavnai: piano

Janelle Reichman: clarinet, tenor saxophone

Sherrie Maricle: drums

Recorded February 1 – 3, 2015, at MCG Jazz, Avatar Studios, Inc

Produced by Marty Ashby

Editing and Mixing: Jay Ashby, Jay Dudt

Mastering: Jay Dudt

Photography: Kent Miller

Cover Art: Jeff O’Brien Myers


A glorious gift of new music comes from Ann Hampton Callaway, a Tony-nominated Broadway and cabaret singer-songwriter with a genuine feel for jazz. Using impeccable phrasing, she infuses the music of The Hope Of Christmas with a refined jollity. The songs aren’t the usual Jack Frost lot. With the exception of one track, none of these songs have been available before. Callaway and New York cognoscenti like Michael Feinstein and Wesley Whatley did the songwriting—and the results are mainly exceptional. William Schermerhorn, a songwriter of wit and wise deliberation, penned the lyrics here, intelligently exploring the complex emotions in play during the holiday season. Arrangements by the Pittsburgh Jazz Orchestra’s Mike Tomaro are characterized by a warm, small-band sound and structural clarity. The talented musicians present—including Hubert Laws, Gerald Albright, Claudio Roditi, the Ted Rosenthal Trio and vocal quartet New York Voices— are pledged to decorum, leaving it to Callaway to supply the poignancy.

Frank-John Hadley (DownBeat)