A Nancy Wilson Christmas (MCG Jazz)

Nancy Wilson

Released in 2001






In 2001, Manchester Craftsmen’s Guild and MCG Jazz, released of A Nancy Wilson Christmas, recorded at the world-renowned MCG Jazz recording studios.
Manchester Craftsmen’s Guild (MCG), a multi-discipline, minority-directed center dedicated to fostering a sense of creative, intellectual and economic empowerment and growth among disadvantaged people in urban communities, appealed to Ms. Wilson’s commitment to the spirit of community. Ms. Wilson signed onto MCG Jazz recordings, and all proceeds from A Nancy Wilson Christmas go directly support the MCG Jazz program.
After a 60-year, successful career as a jazz, R&B and pop vocalist, Nancy Wilson has continually made Manchester Craftsmen’s Guild one of her higher priorities.
To support and promote such unique recordings as Ms. Wilson’s, MCG developed MCG Jazz, a specialty-recording label that captures the instrument and voice of legendary jazz artists who perform at the center every year. Recordings at the MCG Jazz studios have won a Grammy® Award for their 1996 pressing, The Count Basie Orchestra with the New York Voices, Live at Manchester Craftsmen’s Guild. In 1997. Since then MCG Jazz has won four additional GRAMMY Awards and received 11 GRAMMY Nominations. Through her relationship with MCG Jazz, Ms. Wilson finally fulfilled a dream that had eluded her for many years. She had never recorded an entire Christmas album. With the help of the Dizzy Gillespie Alumni All-Star Big Band™, New York Voices, Monty Alexander, Herbie Mann and others, Ms. Wilson has created a groundbreaking Christmas album with the heart and soul of giving, for the 2001 holiday season.
“It was great working with some of the older guys, like the Dizzy Gillespie All-Stars,” says Wilson. “And the New York Voices were a joy. The diversity of the people involved with the project was great.”
Nancy Wilson’s enthusiasm is two-fold. She is happy to announce her first and only Christmas album after entertaining for 50 straight years, and Ms. Wilson is also happy to dedicate her time and album proceeds to helping build and maintain the MCG Jazz program.
“We have the best of both worlds under this recording label,” says MCG Jazz Executive Producer, Marty Ashby. “The artists enjoy coming to our center to play, and we are able to capture the music in a high-quality recording, and most importantly, the artists identify with and want to support the mission of MCG Jazz. This is the very reason Nancy Wilson agreed to do this special Christmas album. It’s a mix of quality with quality.”

Track Listing:

1. Let It Snow! Let It Snow! Let It Snow! (Sammy Cahn, Jule Styne) 3:54

2. Sweet Little Jesus Boy (Robert MacGimsey) 4:08

3. White Christmas (Irving Berlin) 3:47

4. Silver Bells (Ray Evans, Jay Livingston) 4:04

5. What Are You Doing New Year’s Eve? (Frank Loesser) 4:48

6. All Through the Night (Traditional) 3:56

7. O Christmas Tree (Traditional) 4:39

8. O Holy Night (Adolphe Adam, John Sullivan Dwight) 5:02

9. Carol of the Bells (Traditional) 6:28

10. God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen (Traditional) 3:29

11. Christmas Time Is Here (Vince Guaraldi, Lee Mendelson) 3:29

12. Angels We Have Heard on High (Traditional) 3:49

13. The Christmas Song (Mel Tormé, Robert Wells) 5:31


Nancy Wilson: vocals

The Dizzy Gillespie Alumni All Star Big Band (1, 4, 10)

Jon Faddis: director/trumpet

Earl Gardner, Claudio Roditi (7), Terrell Stafford, Greg Gisbert: trumpet

Slide Hampton, Jay Ashby, David Gibson: trombone

Douglas Purviance: bass trombone

Frank Wess: alto sax / flute

Antonio Hart: alto sax

James Moody: tenor sax / flute

Jimmy Heath: tenor sax

Gary Smulyan: baritone sax

Renee Rosnes: piano (3, 7)

Marty Ashby: guitar (3, 7)

John Lee: bass (3, 7)

Dennis Mackrel: drums

New York Voices

Darmon Meader (2, 9), Kim Nazarian (2, 6, 9), Lauren Kinhan (2, 9), Pete Eldridge (2, 9): vocals

Llew Matthews: piano (2, 5, 6, 8, 9, 11, 12, 13)

John B. Williams: bass (2, 5, 8, 11, 12, 13)

Roy McCurdy: drums (2, 5, 6, 8, 11, 12, 13)

Duduka da Fonseca: drums (3, 7)

Herbie Mann: flute (3, 11)

Dwayne Dolphin: bass (6, 9)

Darmon Meader: tenor saxophone (5)

Ali Ryerson: flute (8)

Jim Guerra: clarinet (8)

Jim Germann: bass clarinet (8)

Amy Kauffman, Claudia Mahave, Christopher J. Wu: violin (8, 132)

Tatjana Mead Chamis: viola (8, 13)

David T. Premo: cello (8, 13)

Jay Ashby: background vocals (6), percussion (8), trombone (12)

Monty Alexander: piano (9)

Roger Humphries: drums (9)

Executive Producer: Marty Ashby

Producer: Jay Ashby

Associate Producer: John Levy

Engineer: Jim Czak

Cover Photo: Charles Bush


It seems a little bit strange that an artist of Nancy Wilson’s popularity and experience — she’s recorded more than 60 albums in various genres over the course of a 40-year career — would never have made a Christmas album. But this is indeed her first, and it’s as sweet-spirited and gently eclectic as you’d expect. Joined on several tracks by the Dizzy Gillespie Alumni Allstar Big Band and on others by the vocal quartet New York Voices, flutist Herbie Mann, and various other guest artists, Wilson takes highly predictable elements and creates an original and multifaceted pastiche out of them. From the bossa nova rendition of “White Christmas” to the dense vocal arrangements on “Silver Bells,” Wilson manages to keep things both interesting and fun. The fact that her voice remains as powerful and nuanced as ever doesn’t hurt, either.

Rick Anderson (AllMusic)