Many Times Many Ways

Anyone looking to spice up the holidays with some new spins on the music of Christmas should be sure to have this album on hand in the run-up to the big day. Just when you think there’s nothing that can be added to old yuletide chestnuts like “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” or “Winter Wonderland,” here comes Halie Loren and Matt Treder to make those songs new again with exquisite vocal and piano interplay. And, when they’re not finding new ways to celebrate the old songs, Treder is writing new tunes to add to the spirit of the season. His “Sugar Cookies” is sweet, and his “From the Mouths of Babes” is touching. And when Loren lets her voice play over the lyrics of “Blue Holiday,” for instance, it’s as warmly evocative as the embers in the fireplace on Christmas Eve. If you’re looking for a gift for someone who’s sick of the “same old same old” sounds, this CD would slip nicely into any jazz fan’s stocking. And who would have thought that “Nature Boy,” the old Nat King Cole song, would sound so right on a Christmas album? Not me. But it works to wrap up this 11-song set in lovely fashion.