Wednesday, 7 December 2011

Jazz up your Christmas [music]

Looking for something to listen to over the festive season? Here’s what I’ve had on my iPod this month.

Nat King Cole and Dean Martin: Christmas Together
One for when all the family is together, it’s a compilation of seasonal songs from two gents whose voices were as rich and smooth as brandy butter. There’s a mixture of carols, traditional songs and 20th century tunes. I’d say this is a good one when the family are all together; your nan will love it as much as the tiniest member of the family.

Various: Essential Jazz Christmas
This is a real mixed bag from a wide range of artists, and whether all of it is jazz is definitely open to debate. Some of it is excellent and unusual, some of it a bit too sentimental for my liking. (I really don’t like Bing Crosby and Rosemary Clooney singing ‘Silver Bells’, nor do I like Gracie Fields doing ‘I’m Sending a Letter to Santa Claus’, but Dean Martin singing ‘Baby It’s Cold Outside’ is lovely, and I very much enjoyed the Jack Teagarden and Duke Ellington tracks.) This is probably best to play when you don’t know what people’s tastes are like, at a cocktail party perhaps, because there’s lots of variety.

The Muppets: A Green and Red Christmas
It’s not Christmas at Casa Mechanica without Muppets. And, okay, this CD is quite modern, but you just listen to the Electric Mayhem Band singing, ‘Zat You, Santa Claus?’ (Essential Jazz Christmas has the great Louis Armstrong doing this) and Eddie Floyd’s ‘Everybody’s Waitin’ For The Man With The Bag’ and tell me the Muppets don’t do jazz. As for Miss Piggy’s rendition of ‘Santa Baby’, it’s the song she was born (stuffed?) to sing.

The Glenn Miller Orchestra In the Christmas Mood
This is the newest of the four CDs. My local Scope charity shop had several Christmassy compilations for £4 each and this double CD set was one of them. Glenn Miller only recorded one Christmas song with his orchestra, ‘Jingle Bells’, and this was done years later by members of the orchestra, it’s not a genuine swing-era recording. Sometimes it's a little too smooth, fading into the background, and I'm not taken with the female vocalist on some recordings (she sounds rather post-swing in style) but on the whole it's great for relaxing to. 'In the Christmas Mood', 'Winter Wonderland', and 'Auld Lang Syne' are excellent.

4 comments :

  1. I agree with the Essential Jazz. I bought it yesterday and have had to delete a couple of tracks already (to save me legs from skipping them each time I play) and one of them was Gracie. For shame.

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  2. What was the other? Bing and Rosemary are on borrowed time with me!

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  3. I've got Nat & Dean's Christmas Together, and disc one of The Glenn Miller Orchestra's In The Christmas Mood (originally released as two separate CDs, and I never managed to get a hold of the second one!).

    Last year I mentioned a 2CD set I scored a couple of years ago - A Vintage Christmas Cracker: 47 Original Mono Recordings 1915-1949. (http://eclecticephemera.blogspot.com/2010/12/christmas-is-coming.html). That's got some real old 'uns on it, but sadly now seems out of print - keep your eyes peeled at your charity shop!

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  4. Oooh, that Vintage Christmas Cracker one sounds fab, Bruce. Most don't go that early. We used to have a brilliant record shop with a massive old time section in Bath, but it closed earlier this year :( I still miss it!

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