Mick Kolassa – Uncle Mick’s Christmas Album
Endless Blues Records – 2021
9 Tracks; 36 Minutes
Even though it is now past Christmas, and even if you usually hate Christmas music, you are still likely to be a fan of Mick Kolassa’s latest release Uncle Mick’s Christmas Album. He, along with Jeff Jensen, brought excellent musicians together, including Bill Ruffino on Bass and James Cunningham on drums. The talented Reba Russell and Susan Marshall provide excellent backing vocals.
The album opens with a much slower, bluesy version of Mariah Carey’s song, “All I Want for Christmas is You.” Although that song is very overplayed, you will find that this version of it sounds fresh and new. Adding a New Orleans flavor and trumpet (played by Marc Franklin) to “Frosty the Snowman” also was an unexpected improvement on that song.
The album has two original songs, including a slow blues number which may be the best on the album. That original song, “Merry Christmas Baby” contains wonderful solos by Eric Hughes on Harmonica and Rick Steff on keys. Kolassa wisely changed the melody and tempo of “Jingle Bells”, and that change, along with the rasp in his voice, makes it much more interesting. “Winter Wonderland” is modified just enough to also make it seem nearly new, and the instrumental number, “Beale Street Christmas Jam”, which is a medley of numerous Christmas songs, is a fun way to end the album.
Although it is a long time to wait until next Christmas, you might want to buy this now and hold onto it. Not only is it a great album, but all profits go the Blues Foundation, split between the HART Fund (which pays for medical and mental health expenses blues musicians can’t afford to pay) and Generation Blues (which provides financial assistance to aspiring young blues musicians).