Friday, July 12, 2024
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Liam Forde releases jazzy new single, The Holiday Season

A special seasonal single from acclaimed pop/jazz vocalist and songwriter Liam Forde, “The Holiday Season,” is now available on all digital and streaming formats.

The track is produced by Zack Eldridge and engineered, mixed, and mastered by Grammy Award nominees Tyler McDiarmid and Geoff Countryman (Gregory Porter, Dave Douglas, “Saturday Night Live”).

“The Holiday Season” was written by Kay Thompson, who is best known as the author of the Eloise at the Plaza books. However, she was a prolific composer, arranger, cabaret legend, and vocal coach to the stars, most notably Judy Garland; Thompson was also Liza Minnelli’s godmother. “The Holiday Season” is typically performed in a medley with Irving Berlin’s “Happy Holiday,” thanks to the iconic rendition on The Andy Williams Christmas Album. As well-known as it is, only a handful of artists have recorded “The Holiday Season” as a standalone piece. Forde’s version makes a case for appreciating the song on its own with his trademark joyous grandeur.

The song features Billy Stritch on the piano, with Jerry Devore on bass, Zachary Eldridge on drums, and David Cinquegrana on guitar. The horn section is led by Matt Owens (Miley Cyrus, Brandi Carlile) on trumpet, with Dan Levine (Bruce Springsteen, David Byrne, Rufus Wainwright, Tori Amos) on trombone, Emily Pecararo on alto saxophone, and Steven Salcedo on tenor saxophone.  

“The Holiday Season” starts off coolly and coyly with Forde trading off jazz licks with Stritch. Things soon settle into warm holiday nostalgia, evoking the Big Band arrangements of Frank Sinatra. Forde then takes a Jon Hendricks-style solo, gently criticizing the capitalistic machine that is Christmas. But it’s all in good fun, especially when Stritch takes a bluesy solo, leading to a thrilling crescendo by the horn section, ending with a modulation and swinging finale that brims with joy.  

“When I first heard Kay Thompson’s music, I felt a calling,” comments Liam. “Her songs and arrangements brim with vitality. I spent the first five years of my career trying to be her! A few years ago, I was looking for versions of ‘The Holiday Season.’ All I could find was a grainy 30-second clip from one of Thompson’s radio appearances in the ‘40s. The other versions were covers of Andy Williams’ ‘Happy Holiday’ mashup. I wanted to make a case for bringing ‘The Holiday Season’ to the forefront of the nostalgic holiday song canon while adding my own playful sensibility. I wrote some new lyrics, added some new musical passages, and I love what I ended up with: a cozy, swingin’, at times sardonic, twist on this great classic that feels deeply illustrative of my musical tastes, yet never takes itself too seriously.”

“My friend Billy Stritch has worked extensively with Liza Minnelli, whose godmother was Kay Thompson,” he continues. “I knew that Billy was the person to play piano on the track, not just because of his tremendous talents, but also because of his connection to Kay Thompson’s legacy. Imagine my excitement when he said yes! Dan Levine, our trombonist, actually played with Billy on Broadway in Liza’s at the Palace… Billy was the music director and the second half of the show was all dedicated to Kay Thompson’s music. It was thrilling to have them playing together again.”

Photo: Leslie Hassler

Forde’s debut album of pop/jazz originals, Great to Be Here was released in March 2022. “When My World’s in Tune,” its lead single, was called “a dreamy pop debut” by Huff PostInstinct Magazine praised it as “swinging on a jazzy hook alongside sassy horns and bold percussive beats.” A special music video, recorded at the famed Players Club is available on YouTube. Liam performed the number on French radio with a 20-piece orchestra, orchestrated and conducted by Patrice Peyriéras, music director to three-time Oscar-winning composer Michel Legrand. The performance is available on YouTube. Liam’s latest original, “Change Your Mind,” was released in July of this year.

For updates, follow Liam on Tiktok and Instagram @itsmeliamforde and at Liam-Forde.com.

Liam Forde is a New York-based singer and songwriter who has already received numerous press accolades. In The Wall Street Journal, Will Friedwald raved “the boy wonder never fails to find precisely the right note.” Peter Marks in The Washington Post praised Liam’s “breakout performance.” According to Nitelife Exchange, “Forde has taken the community by storm.” Forde has been the recipient of many honors, including the Bistro Award for “Performer on the Rise,” the Nightlife Award for “Outstanding Male Vocalist,” the Mabel Mercer Foundation’s Julie Wilson Award, and a Helen Hayes Award for “Outstanding Performance.” In addition to headlining shows in London, he has performed concerts in Paris at L’Auguste Théâtre, Café Universel, and Le Carré Parisien.

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