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Nnenna Freelon

Courtesy of the artist

Nnenna Freelon

Nnenna Freelon & John Brown Big Band 

When: Fri., Dec. 21, 8 p.m. 2012
Price: $24-44

Last month, Grammy favorite and jazz singer Nnenna Freelon released Christmas, her simply titled collection of 10 holiday tunes recorded with the big band of bassist and Duke jazz director John Brown. Perhaps that suggests a staid record of pretty singing over austere arrangements of horn and piano. But Freelon handles standards like "Silent Night" and "I'll Be Home for Christmas" with loving roughness, scatting over the latter's powerful piano wallop and deep bass lines. On "Silent Night," though, she lets the organ growl and the horns surge; they rise up behind her during the chorus like an eggnog-happy bunch of carolers. Standards that feel challenged and thusly reinvigorated are always treats; Christmas delivers them by the lot. —Grayson Currin

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