PJ Parker's "It's Christmas" is a re-release of a collection previously only available as a digital download. The CD features a mix of traditional and contemporary Christmas songs such as "Silent Night," "Deck the Halls," "A Child is Born," and nine others, and, in addition to her own "Not Beneath the Tree," includes two bonus tracks, PJ's "Jingle Down The Christmas Tree" and "Christmas Day."
PJ's first recording of Mel Torme's "The Christmas Song" was an a capella version at age three, one of the first songs she was taught by her father, jazz pianist Tom Parker. Her grown-up version concludes the collection.
"Not Beneath the Tree" was born in December 2002 on a hectic, pre-Christmas Saturday after a phone conversation between PJ and her parents concerning holiday shopping. PJ's father, Tom, was gravely ill, and his worry was that he would be unable to travel to gift his beloved wife with the typically lovely things he so delighted in presenting her, not even a card. Her mother, Gloria, married to the love of her life for over five decades, plainly and simply declared that all she would ever need was him, her sweet darling, in whose lap she was happily snuggled, the perspective immediately and indelibly righted. This debut recording marks the fifth anniversary of that bittersweet season.
"It's Christmas" also includes two versions of "Silent Night," one recorded for this collection, and one recorded in Rosse's, an intimate restaurant nestled in New Jersey's Watchung Mountains.
A native New Yorker, PJ Parker has been performing live since she was five years old. After graduating from New York University, PJ toured with various show bands nationally and internationally. She has performed in concerts, dinner theater, summer stock and regional theater and musical reviews, and has also been the featured vocalist with orchestras and bands from Atlantic City to New York City.
As a jazz vocalist, PJ has performed with such artists as Jerry Bruno, Roy Cumming, Steve Gilmore, Harry Leahy, Keith MacDonald, Gary Mazzaroppi, Geary Moore, Rich Reiter and Radam Schwartz. She has also been the featured vocalist for opening act bands for John Pizzarelli and Harry Connick Jr., and appeared in the annual Philadelphia Variety Club Telethon with Ben Vereen and Maureen McGovern. She was also the featured female vocalist in the big band show, “Your Seaside Ballroom,” which received rave reviews at the Trump Plaza Theater in Atlantic City.
PJ counts as her influences Frank Sinatra, the Hi-Lo’s, Sarah Vaughan, Carmen McRae and Tony Bennett.
PJ has also released "Intimate" and "Dreams Are Meant For Two," both of which have received airplay from stations such as WGBH in Boston, Mass.; KSDS in San Diego, Ca.; KMHD in Portland, Ore.; WPFW in Washington, D.C., and WPRB in Princeton, NJ.
What reviewers are saying about "It's Christmas":
Carol Swanson of ChristmasReviews.com wrote:
"Great name, PJ Parker. It's fun, memorable, and classic all at the same time! And amazingly enough, those words also describe the artist's holiday release, It's Christmas. Framed just by the piano and bass, vocalist PJ Parker presents traditional, minimalist jazz, providing the sort of intimate experience you would count yourself lucky to experience in a swank urban watering hole in late December.
"Parker has a sparkle in her eye and smoky intonation in her flexible jazz instrument. The artist brings considerable craft and color to each word and tone, making it a pleasure to absorb the emotional highs and lows. From the sly delights of Jingle Bells and the playful (Everybody's Waitin' for) the Man with the Bag to Parker's aching interpretation of moving gems such as A Child Is Born and I Wonder as I Wander, the album is consistently entertaining. Parker's own Not Beneath the Tree is a well-written ballad about the greatest gifts, which (not surprisingly) cannot be purchased online. It's Christmas nicely combines the sacred and secular, and the overall tone is slightly subdued and richly contemplative.
"Those who favor sophisticated jazz stylings will find much to love here. PJ Parker's release is a delectable dish for the holidays, perfect for two to enjoy by candlelight!"
Andrea Cantor, Jazz Police:
“... a recording of distinctive sound, arrangement and virtuosity ... Her collection of mostly traditional fare is best enjoyed with a few props--a glass of brandy, a crackling fire, and a close confidante.”
Her original songs “suggest PJ Parker has the potential to be a significant songwriter.”