Spruce Grove, Alberta, Canada is not exactly a name synonymous with jazz music but this year you will do well to add Christian artist Sandy Foster’s Spruce It Up to your list of “must haves” for your Christmas music collection.

The album combines three original Foster compositions, “Spruce It Up”, “Christmas Crossmass” and “Snow Wonder I Love You” with some old standbys such as “The First Noel”, “Joy to the World”, “Frosty the Snowman” and “I’ll Be Home for Christmas” set to new arrangements.

Matt Day sparkles on the keys with the jazzed up “Joy to the World” and Foster’s alto vocals let loose for the first time on the CD giving us a foretaste of things to come.

“Some Children See Him” packs an island beat juxtaposed to flautist Kevin Andrews.

You can hear the smile in the notes of “Frosty the Snowman” as the petite blonde chirps this delightful children’s tune. Once again Day’s piano chops provide a great comp to Foster’s vocals.

Foster’s style led Kurt Leavins, Program Director for Magic 99 (radio station) to say, “Sandy Foster blows through your stereo speakers like a breath of fresh air.  Her sprightly lyrics, blithe delivery and fun personality brighten every room she graces.”

Foster stays within her range and this makes for a relaxing and enjoyable experience for the listener. Too often at Christmas time artists put choral numbers or songs on their Santa’s wish list that leave the listener cringing wondering if they are going to make to the next note or forever lie maimed at the foot of the Christmas tree. You never get that feeling with Foster. She is easily in command of the vocals and in sync with the arrangements.

Foster provides a smoky and soulful rendition of “I’ll Be Home For Christmas”. You will fall in love with Foster’s emotive vocals.

My favorite tune on the record is “Snow Wonder I Love You” a Foster original. She came up with some great charts and this is a song that should receive a lot of airplay if the DJs have their headsets on straight. We have a good love song set to jazz music that preserves the festive spirit. Although this is a solo and not a duet I rank this one right up there with the Academy Award winning (1949) song “Baby It’s Cold Outside”. Audiences in more modern times will be familiar with the later song being recorded in more modern times by duets such as James Taylor/Natalie Cole and Ray Charles with Betty Carter.

Grab an eggnog, cuddle up with your honey and relax to this wonderful CD. When you get to the last two tracks turn off all but the Christmas tree lights turn to your sweetheart and say, “I love you”.

Copyright © 2006 Joe Montague, exclusive rights reserved. This material may not be redistributed without prior written permission from Joe Montague. Joe Montague is an internationally published freelance journalist / photographer.

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