To ears accustomed to hearing the same holiday songs again and again, Matassa's and Anderson's repertoire is fresh. The composer and lyricist credits include familiar names?Johnny Mandel, Marilyn and Alan Bergman, Victor Young, Burt Bacharach, Henry Mancini and Irving Berlin. But the Mandel-Bergman "A Christmas Love Song," Bacharach's and Hal David's "Christmas Day" or Bill Mays' and Mark Murphy's "November in the Snow" have not been played ad nauseum in department stores and super markets. Berlin's "Count Your Blessings" may be the most familiar song here. Yet, despite its origin in the movie classic Holiday Inn, it is not often included in Christmas collections.
Matassa is one of the best-known vocalists on the west coast, Anderson one of the most respected bassists. They have been a team for several years, with Anderson singing and playing in live appearances. Now, on record he makes it clear that he is a substantial vocalist with admirable timbre, intonation and phrasing. In his duet with pianist Darin Clendenin on "Count Your Blessings," for three minutes Anderson can make you forget that Bing Crosby owned the song. Matassa shines here, bringing restraint to the tender songs, art-song refinement or her signature bluesy passion to others. She polishes facets of all of those attributes in the medley of "It's Christmas Time" and "Sleep Well, Little Children." Clendenin and drummer Mark Ivester join Anderson's powerful bass in the rhythm section. Susan Pascal is on vibes in three pieces. Ivester's two young daughters add the charm of their voices to Matassa's in "Where Can I Find Christmas?"