It’s not something that you’d always put together, Jazz and Christmas that is, but to overlook the genre would be deny oneself a scattering of brilliant Christmas tunes. Jazzy Christmas songs are by their nature classy affairs, intent on fine musicianship over the aimless tacking on of the decorative sounds of the season. So Louis Armstrong’s ‘Christmas In New Orleans’ is just another in the long list of his powerful sonic palettes. Eartha Kitt’s ‘Santa Baby’ needs little introduction because it has attained a seat at the top table of Christmas songs. Kitt oozes class despite opening her heart to a character who only chooses to visit once a year and only then by way of a soot collecting opening in the roof. Ella Fitzgerald’s ‘The Secret Of Christmas’, which is taken from her classy 1959 LP ‘Ella Wishes You a Swinging Christmas’, is equally assured and reveals a voice that should soundtrack every December ‘till kingdom come.
Unlike many of our other playlists jazzy Christmas songs is mostly a quiet affair. The perfect companion for downtime over the holidays, a subtle breeze of calm to catch your breath before it gets hectic all over again. Let prized numbers like Dianne Reeves ‘Christmas Time Is Here’ caress your brow as the singer does an exemplary job coaxing bright nuances from Vince Guaraldi’s original. Another contemporary number, although this time original, comes from a softly spoken Norah Jones. She may only offer slow dynamics but there is true emotion course through every second of ‘December’.
Going back to the middle of the last century we find Billy Eckstine’s ‘Christmas Eve’ which carries with it the spirit of Christmas past. Hardly ever given an airing this new century it certainly deserves some attention each new December. And why not wrap it all up in the perfect bow courtesy of final track ‘Christmas Will Really Be Christmas’ by the master of slick Lou Rawls. If you were boil down the definitive Christmas soul jazz sound to one song this would surely be it. And how fresh and alive it sounds despite emerging from way back in 1967 from Rawls ‘Merry Christmas. Ho! Ho! Ho!’ LP.
Published by SpiritOfXmas | g+ profile