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Pianist Jeff Collins Releases
Available October 7, 2016 on Crossroads Records

October 7, 2016
Christmas may be the most swinging time of the year, or so it would seem if you assembled a discography of all the jazz artists who have found inspiration in holiday music. The roster of jazz musicians who have succumbed to the yuletide spirit is as diverse as it is long. From Django Reinhardt to Carla Bley, musicians have re-interpreted seasonal music to reflect their own inimitable voices. JEFF COLLINS, a pianist, producer, and co-owner of Crossroads Marketing and Entertainment, has a deep affinity for the holiday and has released his newest jazz-infused Christmas CD, THE KEYS TO CHRISTMAS, with fresh interpretations of traditional Christmas songs and other tunes associated with the season.

Crossroads Marketing and Entertainment is a music production powerhouse in the Southeastern U.S. The group comprises several record labels that specialize in gospel, bluegrass, and Americana music. Collins had been performing around Asheville area with various groups in the 90’s when he became a part-owner of the company. Although the company doesn’t specialize in jazz, Collins’ parents played jazz records at home and instilled in him a love of the music.

Although Collins performs on other artists’ CDs, he is not a touring musician. He prefers spending his time in the studio playing, arranging, and producing music for his many clients. THE KEYS TO CHRISTMAS is Collins’ second release of Christmas music. He released his first album in 2002 and says, “I have always had a special love for music, especially Christmas music. My parents made the Christmas season very special for me and my sister Gail. I have wonderful memories of decorating the tree and wrapping presents to the soundtrack of classic Christmas music by Frank Sinatra, Nat King Cole, Perry Como, Bing Crosby, and on and on. Those musical influences inspired me in the creation of my latest Christmas music offering here on THE KEYS TO CHRISTMAS.”

The CD comprises a lovely mix of styles. One of the advantages of being a studio musician is having relationships with many talented musicians, engineers and arrangers throughout the US. Cody McVey, orchestral arranger on the project, brought these songs to life with his seasoned arrangements of pop brass, big band, strings and full orchestra. His touch brings a true legitimacy to the recording. However, the core group of musicians, Collins on piano, TONY CREASMAN on drums and percussion, DAVID JOHNSON and JEREMY MEDKIFF on electric and acoustic guitars, JASON WEBB on Hammond B3, and TIM SURRETT and ROGER FORTNER on upright bass, build the foundation on which to create.

This is a completely instrumental, piano-driven project. There are no vocals. Collins arranged all the tunes except for opening number “Medley: Hark! The Herald Angels Sing, O Come All Ye Faithful, Joy to the Word” and “Carol of the Bells,” which are full orchestral arrangements by Cody McVey.

The tunes on the CD move between musical styles. There are swinging classics, like “The Man with the Bag,” a Christmas song originally made popular by Kay Starr and which regularly appeared on Billboard’s list of most popular Christmas songs in the early 1950s, and the perennial favorite “Linus and Lucy,” Vince Guaraldi‘s jazz piano composition that was the theme song for many of the Peanuts animated television specials. Michael McDonald inspired Collins’ arrangement of “Go Tell It On the Mountain,” which is an African-American spiritual song that dates back to at least 1865. Collins gives it a funky R&B feel that makes it quite different and very contemporary. “Let It Snow, Let It Snow, Let It Snow,” the Sammy Cahn and Jule Styne number written during a heat wave in California, has a fun Latin rhythm that’s reminiscent of swinging music from the 1960’s, while “What Are You Doing New Year’s Eve” is rendered as a beautiful, lush ballad.

Collins and company swing through these timeless holiday classics with style, verve and feeling. As Collins says, “Some people make music by ear. I make music by heart.”

THE KEYS TO CHRISTMAS is available at, Amazon, iTunes, and a host of digital media outlets. Hear samples: