"The album’s best solo comes on a heartbreakingly wistful “Silent Night,” where saxophonist Marshall McDonald’s tender statement evokes Kansas City jazz legends Ben Webster and Lester Young. His playing is so potent the track would be welcome on a steamy summer morning.
Memorable moments like McDonald’s compensate for the album’s deficiencies. That unnecessary exclamation point in the album’s title and the characterization of the 11th track on the 44-minute album as an encore feel like signs of desperation, but the band shouldn’t feel compelled to resort to cheap gimmicks. In spite of its faults, “A Very Swingin’ Basie Christmas!” is an entirely worthy addition to the ensemble’s illustrious discography."
Bill Brownlee's writing appears weekly in The Kansas City Star and Ink magazine. He blogs about Kansas City’s jazz scene at Plastic Sax.