An Eden Brent Christmas with Bob Dowell

Eden Brent

Soon after Mississippi blues pianist/singer Eden Brent met London trombonist/arranger Bob Dowell on the 2008 Blues Cruise, they began a relationship that included one particularly sweet tradition: they'd spend Christmases in Eden's hometown of Greenville, Mississippi. The yuletide season had always held a special place in both their hearts, and the feeling deepened with each holiday visit.

When Eden began to feel the urge to make her first Christmas album, it was clear that Bob (now her husband, who'd moved to be with her in Greenville) should write the charts. A graduate of the Royal Academy of Music, Bob had been immersed in blues, jazz and R&B for years, and arrangements were his forte.

Preparations began, with Bob sketching out charts for Eden's holiday favorites. "For Blue Christmas", they leaned more toward Fats than Elvis. For Santa Baby, a Count Basie-style bluesy swing was the thing. For "Santa Claus Is Comin' to Town", the spirits of Allen Toussaint and James Booker came to them, with a second-line groove giving way to a rhumba rhythm. "Boogie Woogie Santa Claus" was perfect for the potent piano powers of Eden. And for "Baby, It's Cold Outside", Eden left Bob no choice: he would sing for the first time on record, joining Eden in an effortlessly charming duet.

For the sessions, Bob tapped the deep pool of Memphis instrumentalists with whom he's played and recorded. The musicians heard here have worked with B.B., Aretha, Booker T., Dr. John, the Bo-Keys and more. This project had been years in the making, but this became a "hit it and quit it" recording. One practice, one take: this is what largely went down, with a team of Memphis stalwarts, Bob's inspired charts and Eden's earthy vocals sounding more Etta than Ella. Whether you're feeling a Dickensian winter bite or basking in balmy climes, this is a warm-hearted Christmas throwback you'll spin every year about this time!
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