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Christmas Jazz

Discussion in 'Recordings [BG]' started by Boplicity, Nov 23, 2002.

  1. Boplicity

    Boplicity Supporting Member

    This is a revival of a thread we ran last year at this time about favorite Christmas albums, some of which were jazz.

    I have bought two new jazz holiday CDs this year and would like to recommend each one.

    "An Oscar Peterson Christmas." (Telarc)

    This one is just so smooth. David Young's acoustic bass playing is supurb. The album features both secular and non-secular holiday music. I wish I had bought this one a long time ago.

    "Christmas Songs with the Ray Brown Trio" (Telarc)

    The late, great Ray Brown plays thirteen holiday songs as his trio pairs up with singers such as Diana Krall. There is even a rap! I think this album is new this year, while Peterson's has been out a long time. In fact, I had to buy it used, but am glad I did.

    If you folks have bought any new (or older) (or either of these) holiday jazz CDs this year, let us know what you think of it.
  2. P. Aaron

    P. Aaron Supporting Member

    Of course there's "A Charlie Brown Christmas" by the Vince Guiraldi trio.

    "Christmas Time is here" give me chills. It is so beautiful.
  3. JMX

    JMX Vorsprung durch Technik

    Sep 4, 2000
    Cologne, Germany
    This is not exactly jazz, but <b>Merry Axemas Vol.2</b> has it's nice moments too.

    Stu Hamm's version of <b>Sleighride</b> is very much tongue-in-cheek. I always have to grin when I heard that one. :D
  4. JimK


    Dec 12, 1999
    I am a sentimental softie that loves Christmas music...there.
    Thanks, JO, for reminding me, I just went & pulled my favourites-

    Wynton Marsalis-Crescent City Christmas Card
    ...post-bop readings of your favourites.

    Various Artists-Jingle Bell Jazz
    ...this "classic" even has Air's('70s Free Jazz trio) rhythm section(Steve McCall & Fred Hopkins) backing up Arthur Blythe.
    There's also "Blue Christmas" performed with this personnel:
    Miles, Paul Chambers, Jimmy Cobb, Wayne Shorter, etc.

    Various Artists-A GRP Christmas Collection Vol 1 & 2...I like the Latin-ized cuts(Dave Valentin's "Santa Claus Is Comin' To Town", Eddie Daniels' "Sleigh Ride", etc) & the Elektric Band rockin' it out on "God Rest Ye Merry, Genltemen".
    Volume 2 has yet another nice version of "Christmas Time Is Here"(Pattie Austin) & an interesting arrangement of "O Come All Ye Faithful" by Arturo Sandoval.

    Various Artists-Jazz To The World
    ...nice job by Michael Franks on "Let It Snow!"
    Diana Krall's "Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas" is also nice(as is her EP which also contains yet another nice version of "Christmas Time Is Here").

    Various Artists-A Verve Christmas.
    ...very, very cool, arrangement of "Deck The Halls"('Double Decker'); it's Christian McBride, unaccompanied on overdubbed acoustic basses.

    Finally, I feel the need to mention a cd by a poster I met over at www.jazzcorner.com
    It's by Doug Robinson...he's a Cali piano/keyboard/composer-type; the 'backup' personnel on this Christmas disc-
    Peter Erskine-drums(Weather Report, Maynard Ferguson, etc)
    Bob Sheppard-sax(original Tribal Tech-er)
    Dave Carpenter-bass(Alan Holdsworth, Andy Summers)
    Mike Miller-guitar(Elektric Band II)
    Steve Laury-guitar(Fattburger?)

    Anyway, very nicely played & recorded...some improvising. Very well-done.
    Doug may still have copies available @www.dougrobinson.com
  5. JimK


    Dec 12, 1999
    Did some poking around-
    There are some sound samples of Doug Robinson's Xmas disc at his site.
    To buy-
    Head over to Jazziz' site

    It's $10.

    Also, the last Xmas cd was last year's Playboy's Latin Jazz Christmas...she's a keeper!

    And Take 6's He Is Christmas is sweet; stunning version of "God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen"(w/ The Yellowjackets as 'backup band'). ;)
  6. Boplicity

    Boplicity Supporting Member

    JimK, I bought that "Playboy Latin Jazz Christmas" last year and absolutely love it! The "Jingle Bell Jazz" was actually one of the first jazz albums I ever bought. Maybe it was about 1962 or 63. Can you imagine...I bought it as a 78 RPM! I now have it in CD, of course. It was my first real introduction to jazz other than swing.

    The Jazziz album sounds intriguing. Hey, these days ten bucks isn't bad for any CD.

    Oh, I have a bad review to report. I'll duck and cover as I say this, but I bought Kenny G's "Wishes" because I did like his other two holiday Cds. Well, guys, I wasted my money. It offers absolutely nothing really new over the other two.

    Furthermore the last song..."Auld Lang Sein" (I know I slaughtered the spelling.) It is done with radio outakes of news while the song is sadly played. Seems like that trick has been done before. Maybe it was even Kenny G who did it, but I was tired of it before the song ever made it to his CD. What a waste of money that I could have spent on the Jazziz CD or any other. Dang!
  7. Boplicity

    Boplicity Supporting Member

    Music from "A Charlie Brown Christmas" is so very special. Oddly enough, I don't own the album though I promise myself every year I will buy it. Another oddity, I didn't like it the first time I heard it and thought it was irritating. Boy, that was a long time ago. How one's taste in music changes over the years!

    Maybe the main reason I don't buy it is the music is played so often in stores, on TV and radio, etc. that I don't need to buy it. But I should so I can hear it exactly when I want and not wait around for someone else to determine when and IF I will hear it.
  8. jazzbo


    Aug 25, 2000
    San Francisco, CA
    I have these two CDs. Both get heavy rotation during Christmas time, along with my Ray Charles Xmas CD.
  9. I'd be happy just to find out who played the most amazing (jazz) rendition of "We Three Kings" which I heard on the radio last year. The DJ did not announce who played it (probably did before the tune, but I missed it).

    As to Jazz X'mas albums, Amazon.com has a pretty good selection. Just do a Popular Music search for "jazz christmas".
  10. Boplicity

    Boplicity Supporting Member

    Don't know which jazz version of "We Three Kings" you heard, but if it has a flute as the lead instrument and is played up-tempo, it appears on the "Jingle Bell Jazz" album.
  11. Boplicity

    Boplicity Supporting Member

    XavierG, I went to explore the amazon.com list of jazz albums as you suggested and while I was at it, I checked the tracks. These albums all had a "We Three Kings." I hope one of them is the song you heard.

    Jazzy Christmas:
    Though the pianist David Benoit is listed as the principle artist, "We Three Kings" on this CD is played by none other than Stanley Clarke!!! The sound bite is beautiful. Clarke has another track on the album too.

    Have Yourself a Jazzy Little Christmas
    Various jazz artists play, but a track called "We FREE Kings" which is really "W3K", is played with a flute as lead instrument.

    Crescent City Christmas Card
    This is Wynton Marsalis and his group. "W3K" is on this CD, as are many traditional holiday songs, none played in traditional style. If you like your music dissonant, this is for you.

    Hot Jazz for a Cool Yule
    This is Jim Callum and the music is Dixieland holiday music, including "W3K."

    The Christmas Project
    This is smooth jazz saxophonist Kurt Whalum. he plays "W3K" in smooth jazz style.
  12. SuperDuck


    Sep 26, 2000
    I'm a big fan of "Jingle Bell Swing". Duke Ellington, Herbie Hancock & Chick Corea, Miles Davis, Tony Bennet (!), Benny Goodman, the Glenn Miller Orchestra, a couply by Louis Prima, AND Pony Pointdexter. (Whom I have never heard of of.) Ellington's "Sugar Rum Cherry" is classic.

    I would really like to get my hands on The Nutcracker by the Classical Jazz Quartet. They rock my world. :D

    Edit: BTW, the Christmas thread from last year was mine. I feel so special... :D
  13. Boplicity

    Boplicity Supporting Member

    Just received from Amazon.com a Christmas album "December" by smooth jazz trumpet player Chris Botti. I love it, pure and simple.

    Jazz purists will not share my enthusiasm. It isn't Miles, but Botti isn't a trumpet playing Kenny G either. Besides Botti looks a lot like my son. Oh, I know that is no reason to buy or much less like an album, but I had to throw that in. Anyway, I didn't know what he looked like when I ordered the CD. I bought it based on a few sound bites at Amazon.

    The arrangements are lush and romantic. I really enjoy the drummer, Peter Erskine, who appears regularly in "Modern Drummer" magazine. Now I know why. Another drum monster,Vinnie Colaiuta, plays drums on "Little Drummer Boy," a funky version with cool bass also. Bassists include the respected Jimmy Haslip, plus two I don't know...David Carpenter and Jon Ossman. Richard Marx, (anyone remember him?) write one of the songs.

    This album is just the kind of soft, pleasing, yet softly "jazzy" kind of CD I have been searching for to add to my holiday collection. It isn't jazzy enough to please "hard" jazz fans and it is too jazzy to please Celine Dion and Streisand fans...but it is perfect for me.

    One of my favorite songs on the CD is "Santa Claus Is Coming to Town" done as a bossa nova! That won me over right away, as I have been a bossa nova fan for decades. I don't even particularly like that old song, but this arrangement is one of the most pleasing I have ever heard of it. Come to think of it, I wish someone would do an entire album of Christmas music bossa nova style.

    Also, Botti plays "O Little Town of Bethlehem" with a muted trumpet. I'm a sucker for a muted trumpet. That's when I love Miles best. There are few instruments so moving as a muted trumpet on a slow, mournful song.

    Carpenter's bassline on "Winter Wonderland" makes the song.

    I hope at least some of you will check out this album...IF I have said anything that might appeal to you.
  14. JimK


    Dec 12, 1999
    Hey JO-
    Both Erskine & Dave Carpenter appear on that Doug Robinson Christmas disc I mentioned way back...they have also lent their support to Robinson's other releases.
    I think you may enjoy Doug's "Jazz"; it's easy on the ears & is(IMO) a few steps beyond what's played on those E-Z Jazz-light stations.

    Carpenter is a very capable player; he doubles(elec + URB)...he also plays with Andy Summers(on the Monk tribute, Green Chimneys) & Alan Holdsworth.
    Erskine goes way back to the '70s; that he's in Modern Drummer should be of no surprise...The Maynard Ferguson Big Band, Weather Report, Yellowjackets, + countless solo & sideman gigs.
  15. Boplicity

    Boplicity Supporting Member

    Coincidentally you mentioned Andy Summers. As a "six degrees of separation" thing...Summers used to play with Sting...if it is the same one. Well Chris Botti toured with Sting and also Paul Simon in Sting's backup band. Botti also happens to look like a young Sting.

    Frankly I was wondering how Botti had the stroke to have such heavy shooters as Erskine and Colaiuta on his album, plus Haslip and the two other impressive bassists. I guess his experience with Sting and Simon helped.

    Repeated listenings of this album have only made me like it more. In fact, I recorded it to play in my car. This CD totally puts Kenny G's third holiday album to shame. How can that guy look in the mirror and put out an album that is an absolute clone of his previous two holiday CDs? Heck, it isn't as good as those. I want my money back...so I can buy the CD you recommend.:D

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