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Wednesday, December 06, 2006

A jazzy Christmas for Jay-R

A new label logo sits proudly beside the Universal Records logo usually found in albums by Jay-R. It is that of JAYRS Music and it belongs to Jay-R, the Pinoy R ’n B artist famous for the hit tune Bakit Pa Ba? He is making his bow as producer with his own label and the first album produced and manufactured by JAYRS Music and recorded in Jay-R’s own studio is Christmas Away from Home. Take note, he also did the album cover with pictures taken in his house.

Jay-R’s first for the holiday season, the album is also his most personal ever in his entire career. Jay-R loves Christmas and the idea that it is a time for extra doses of love and togetherness among friends and family. Because he will be working here on Christmas while thinking of his family and friends out there in the US, he titled the album Christmas Away from Home and filled the cover with his favorite snap shots of his loved ones.

Something else Jay-R loves even more about Christmas is the music. He even plays Christmas songs during the off-season just to enjoy the music. A great thing about producing the album himself is that this gave him the chance to compose and record his own Christmas song. It’s a very special one about remembered Christmases in LA and he named it after his beloved Tito Reny.

This is the first Christmas when Jay-R and his family will be without their uncle Reny whom they lost to cancer a few months ago. Reny’s job was building airplanes but to the boy Jay-R he was the first and best music mentor he ever had. In fact, it was Reny who introduced him to Frank Sinatra’s light swinging jazz music. His local fans expect Jay-R to sing R ’n B. He has no problem with that but because this one is a Christmas album dedicated to friends and family and particularly his Tito Reny, Jay-R decided to try out his jazz chops.

You read that right. Jay-R, known hereabouts as the Prince of R ’n B now does jazz on vocals, keyboards and as producer. It is a total departure from his usual stuff and might not sit well with his admirers, but I admire him for staking his own money and career for something he believes in. Indulge him this one and he promises to return to R ’n B soon.

Cuts in Christmas Away from Home are an intro of O Tannenbaum with Jay-R on the piano, Winter Wonderland, The Christmas Song, This Christmas with friend Kris Lawrence, Santa Baby, Little Drummer Boy, Tito Reny, Spread the Love featuring Amber, featuring Jhing and instrumental versions of Winter Wonderland, The Christmas Song and This Christmas. Jay-R does well of them with a light, easy hand throughout.

Those of you interested in hearing Jay-R perform these songs and his other hits live can catch him in his Christmas Away from Home tour of local malls. He will be at SM Sucat on Dec. 10; Salt ‘n Pepper in Makati on Dec. 20, SM San Lazaro on Dec. 22 and SM Pampanga on Dec. 23.

Since Jay-R has put us in a Yuletide mood, I’d like to mention again the Christmas albums by Filipino artists which I make it a point to listen to during this season. Christmas in Our Hearts by Jose Mari Chan remains a big favorite after so many years and as I am sure you have found out by now, the shopping malls agree with me. You hear Jose Mari singing Sing a song of sadness and cheer for the time of Christmas is here... when you walk into the stores.

Then because Filipino Christmas carols can be truly beautiful, there are also the two volumes of Pasko by the San Miguel Philharmonic Orchestra and the San Miguel Master Chorale, which was produced, arranged and conducted by Ryan Cayabyab. This one has the newer works like Payapang Daigdig and Pasko Na Sinta Ko and the more traditional songs like Pasko Na Naman and Mano Po Ninong, Mano Po Ninang.

And my new addition this year, The Christmas Album by The CompanY with its heartfelt version of Isang Taong Lumipas and varied treatments of well- loved Christmas tunes that go big band, funky, R ’n B or the simple but always effective ballad. This includes It’s Just Another New Year’s Eve, Noche Buena and a surprise cut, The Party’s Over. LINK

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