Almost all tracks are imbued with the Yuletide spirit, though some only incorporate the cold and the snow and the mood of the season
Collection that makes good its boast
Of the 14 tracks on The Very Best of Christmas Jazz, only a
couple fall below the jazz standard of improvisation and
The Very Best of Christmas Jazz
Either it can be good jazz or it can be good Christmas music, so the "very best of Christmas jazz" has got to be a contradiction in terms, right?
So one might think, and this album proves that one would be wrong! For of its 14 tracks, only a couple fall below the jazz standard of improvisation and innovation, and almost all are imbued with the Yuletide spirit, though some only incorporate the cold and the snow and the mood of the season. In fact, jazz musicians have always been enthusiastically taken up the challenge of making music for Christmas, and have always come out successful.
For example, to start the album off, Ella Fitzgerald's lusty singing and a great piano solo join forces in a delightful rendition of Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer. The great blues singer Joe Williams is in a light-hearted mood on Let It Snow!, well matched by virtuoso trumpet and alto sax solos and a piano intro, probably by the Count Basie orchestra, with which he was for long associated. John Coltrane, wielding his lyrical soprano saxophone, is in fine form on the Elizabethan folk song Green Sleeves, on which he is ably supported by piano, bass and drums.
The virtuoso pianists Bill Evans and Oscar Peterson dominate Santa Claus Is Coming to Town and A Child Is Born, while Count Basie takes a rare but delightful piano solo amidst his big band's pyrotechnics on Good Morning, Blues. The scene is set for Shirley Horn's husky voice on Winter Wonderland by another great piano solo intro (probably by Horn herself). But it is Jimmy Smith, the master of the Hammond B-3 electric organ, a staple of gospel, blues and jazz, who takes the honours on this album with Jingle Bells.
Published on 5 May 2002
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