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AARON NEVILLE
CHRISTMAS PRAYER
TELL IT/EMI

Sure, this is a Christmas album, but what the Devil? Itís Aaron Neville. And Neville can croon a Chinese restaurant menu into poetry. When heís singing "Go Tell It on the Mountain" and "Maryís Boy Child," it seems heís doing just that. Then, the kind of magic heís been practicing since the 1960s, when he built his career on tunes like the romantic epic "Tell It Like It Is" and the funk masterpiece "Hercules," kicks in. Suddenly, on a "Joy to the World" he shares with gospel legends the Blind Boys of Alabama and in a lovely "Hark the Herald Angels Sing," his airy tenor begins to flutter and hitch like the wings of angels in a strong wind. Itís hard not to be touched, no matter how worn the material may be. Thereís also Nevilleís own "Christmas Everyday," which offers a departure in its breezy reggae arrangement. Speaking of winds: Neville lost his New Orleans home to Hurricane Katrina and is relocating to Nashville. Heís also donating 60 cents from each of these CDs to the Red Crossís Crescent City relief effort, and theyíll be available at his Berklee concert this Wednesday, a Christmas-themed performance that will include his brother Charles on sax.

Aaron Neville Quintet featuring Charles Neville | Berklee Performance Center, 136 Mass Ave, Boston | Nov 30 | 617.931.2000

BY TED DROZDOWSKI


Issue Date: November 25 - December 1, 2005
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