Anton Schwartz (tenor sax)
Art Hirahara (piano)
John Wiitala (acoustic bass)
Tim Bulkley (drums)
Produced by Anton Schwartz and Bud Spangler.
All songs arranged by Anton Schwartz.
Recording Engineer: Ben Leinbach.
Mixing Engineers: Ben Leinbach & Devin Earthman.
Mastering by Ken Lee. Artwork by Gregory Niemeyer.
"I actually like many of the Christmas songs that have been composed--of which many of the most memorable one are products of American composers since the 1930s. For me, the acid test is whether the music holds up at other times of the year, and makes me feel great. Anton Schwartz is a terrific tenor saxophonist--and his Holiday Time album fits that bill. His inventive treatment of "Jingle Bells" as a medium up-tempo jazz waltz starts the album off with a bang. Schwartz and Art Hirahara on piano turn in swinging deftly crafted solos. Next up is "Winter Wonderland." I have always been drawn to this composition because of the beautiful melody and colorful harmonic places to which this song travels. The unexpected reggae groove that Anton arranges for this piece are a pleasant, toe tapping surprise. "The Christmas Song" is one of those pieces of music that is simply so beautiful, so perfect in its simplicity--melody and chord changes. For accomplished players, it would be a challenge not to sound great on this, and difficult not to elicit sentimental responses from listeners. Schwartz breathes his beautiful and expansive tone into this ballad--taken, quite naturally, slowly and subtly. I get a similar feeling from his performance as I did listening to Coltrane's ballads album. Schwartz offers another interesting arrangements on Leroy Anderson's colorful "Sleigh Ride," which is performed in 7/4 time, with a Latin, backbeat kind of groove. I thoroughly enjoyed the great feeling from each of lyrical and fluent solos served up by Schwartz and Hirahara. The album concludes with a magnificent rendition of the classic "In The Wee Small Hours of The Morning." The only drawback about Holiday Time is that the album has a total playing time of 27 minutes and 32 seconds. That notwithstanding, it is a superb album, bubbling with a combination of imaginative and sweet sounding playing--enjoyable year round."
-- Winthrop Bedford, Jazz Improv Magazine (Volume 5, Number 2 -- December 2004)
"His relaxed, engaging "Holiday Time" can be enjoyed as seasonal fare or taken straight as a fine jazz recording. Schwartz takes "Jingle Bells" out for a breezy, good-natured spin, and reworks "Winter Wonderland" with a gentle reggae beat and "Sleigh Ride" with an up-beat Latin flavor. "The Christmas Song" and "In the Wee Small Hours of the Morning" get entrancing ballad treatments."
-- Jerry Karp, SF Chronicle
"An absolute gem of a CD... There are stretches of moody reflection, upbeat cookers, humor and wit, beautiful solo works, surprising turns, and through it all, a swinging drive. And it bears repeated playing—remarkable stuff!”
– Andrew Nozaka, Jazz Photographer