I seems that it is my fate to write about Christmas music here every two years (see here and here.) My entry this time around is about my favorite new Christmas CD -- Putumayo Presents: A Jazz & Blues Christmas.
I picked this CD up as an impulse buy while I was in the checkout line at Whole
Foods Paychecks getting holiday party provisions. I am never really sure what to expect when it comes to Christmas CDs. I knew that tracks by B.B. King, Charles Brown, and Ray Charles had some promise, but the rest of the artists were unknown to me.
This is a very solid mix. The whole thing has a rather New Orleans feel -- a mixture of blues and jazz, with some jazzy funk thrown in for good measure. The B.B. King and Charles Brown tracks are both solid citizens, though B.B.'s track tends to sound a bit like a generic blues from him... that's nothing bad, just nothing terribly special. The Ray Charles version of "Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer" is positively righteous. "Santa Baby" is an abused track, more often than not (see the Pussycat Dolls version) but in the hands of Emelie-Claire Barlow, it is lively and elegant. "Here Comes Santa Claus" is a slightly funky boogie woogie instrumental when played by The Ramsay Lewis Trio. New Orleans Jazz drips from "The Christmas Blues" by Topsy Chapman and Lars Edegran. The final track, "All I Ask For Christmas" by the Mighty Blue Kings sounds like a James Hunter song that happens to be sung by Charlie Musselwhite (even though it isn't.) I skipped commenting on a few tracks, but there are no throwaways here. Everyone is playing with taste and soul.
So, if you find yourself in line at Whole Paychecks during the next few weeks and spot "A Jazz and Blues Christmas", I don't think you'll be disappointed... well unless you've been pining for that Britney Spears Christmas album for several years now. If that's the case, there's no hope for you. Just go home.
on 2008-12-10 at 8:47 p.m.
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