Natalie Cressman and Ian Faquini followed James Casey‘s lead this winter by partnering with the Nancy Langhorne Foundation to release An Old-Fashioned Christmas, a yuletide EP benefitting The Colorectal Cancer Alliance (CCA) and Eastern Virginia Medical School’s Hope’s Clinic, which provide free colon cancer screenings to those in need.

Since 2017, the Norfolk, VA- and Brooklyn, NY-based Nancy Langhorne Foundation—which operates under the motto “Fighting Cancer with Christmas”—has raised significant funds for cancer research and free screenings for the uninsured via its annual Christmas Eve Eve concerts on December 23d while the organization’s record label, 12/23 Records, contributes to the cause by releasing limited-edition holiday records.

In 2022, 12/23 Records released A Little Something for Everyone by James Casey, who was in the midst of a battle with colon cancer when the EP was recorded. As Casey said last year when his charity Christmas EP was released, “The thing about colon cancer, at least in the Black community, is that it’s hereditary and it hits us 20 percent more than anybody else. And once we get diagnosed, we have a 30 percent chance more of dying, which is really unfortunate. Had I known that I had cancer in my family, I would have gone to get checked before… If there’s cancer in your family, please let the people know so they can get tested and they won’t have to deal with this.”

Related: A Party For James Casey: Louis Cato, Trey Anastasio, Nikki Glaspie, More Lead Memorial Bash [Photos/Videos]

Casey tragically succumbed to his illness this past summer, but Cressman, his longtime cohort in the Trey Anastasio Band horn section, is picking up where he left off with this year’s EP, recorded last Christmas Eve. “After loving every note of James’ Christmas EP last year,” Cressman told Live For Live Music, “I was thrilled when the Nancy Langhorne Foundation asked us to do the next release. We asked James to help us choose the charity that our half of the proceeds would go to, and it was great to feel like we could help this worthy cause as we watched our friend going through his fight with colon cancer. James was so generous to share what he went through so publicly and it really came from his desire to prevent others from experiencing his fate. I miss him terribly, but I’m so grateful to be able to contribute towards providing access to cancer screenings and all the other great initiatives by the CCA.”

The EP’s title track, “An Old-Fashioned Christmas”, is a lesser-known Jimmy Van Heusen/Sammy Cahn song originally recorded in 1964 by Frank Sinatra. The intimate timbre of Cressman’s voice and the wistful fretboard wanderings of Faquini’s nylon-string guitar mirror song’s cozy imagery, while lines like “My heart remembers smoldering embers, warm your glow” transporting listeners to a rosy Christmas memory from long ago.

As Natalie said of the song, “The lyrics ‘I’d trade that whole Manhattan skyline/The shimmering steel and chrome/For one old fashioned Christmas back home’ really hit me at that particular time. … The song sums up the feelings that I have around Christmas time – which is of happiness and childhood memories, but also of being caught up in the shuffle and wishing for simpler times.”

That unique perspective is what makes “An Old-Fashioned Christmas” resonate, said Richard Langhorne, director of the Nancy Langhorne Foundation. “I love that they chose to shine a new light on ‘Old-Fashioned Christmas,’ a great, deep cut that many people probably don’t know about.” Along with the title track, An Old-Fashioned Christmas features new renditions of “I’ll Be Home For Christmas” (Walter Kent/Kim Gannon) and “Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas” (Hugh Martin, from Meet Me in St. Louis) as well as a samba-style take on Tchaikovsky’s “Waltz of the Flowers” from The Nutcracker.

On Friday, December 15th, Natalie Cressman and Ian Faquini, self-described “Jews who love Christmas,” will celebrate the release of An Old-Fashioned Christmas with a live performance at Oakland, CA’s The Sound Room. Grab your tickets here.

Pre-order your copy of the 7-inch vinyl edition of Natalie Cressman and Ian Faquini’s An Old Fashioned Christmas here. Listen to the EP on the digital platform of your choice via GroundUp Music here or stream it via the Spotify player below.

Natalie Cressman & Ian Faquini – An Old Fashioned Christmas – Full EP

An Old-Fashioned Christmas marks the third collaborative project by the two musicians, who unknowingly played their first notes together as children at Brazil Camp, an annual week of masterclasses taught by the South American country’s most revered musicians. By the time the two artists reunited as adults at the Northern California retreat, they had each forged their own successful careers. Natalie and Ian, who celebrated their engagement earlier this year, have previously released two acclaimed albums together, 2019’s Setting Rays of Summer and 2022’s Auburn Whisper. They are currently working on their next project, which will honor the music of legendary Brazilian composer and guitarist, Guinga.


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[Originally published 11/26/23]