Monday, December 10, 2007

A Christmas Gift For You: Jazz

In the spirit of the holidays, we here at Chinese Ending will be bringing you lists of our favorite Christmas tunes beginning with The Tunnel’s favorite jazzy Christmas tracks. Enjoy!

Vince Guaraldi - Charlie Brown Christmas (1965)

Let’s all just address the elephant in the room: Guaraldi’s album rightly deserves every bit of the attention it gets. So very few artists could or can fulfill the task of creating new memorable Christmas music. Guaraldi made an entire album of new Christmas songs (and retooled old ones) that weren’t just memorable, they are unforgettable.

Case in Point: “Skating”

Duke Ellington – 3 Suites, Nutcracker Suite (1960)

Sir Duke makes Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker swing! This is a brilliant work by a brilliant arranger.

My personal favorite track: “Sugar Rum Cherry (Dance of the Sugar-Plum Fairy)”

Listen: “Toot Toot Tootie Toot (Dance of the Reed-Pipes)”

Chet Baker – Chet Baker Quartet & Russ Freeman “Winter Wonderland (78 Take)” (1953)

How could a man who sang so slow play trumpet so fast? This amazing rendition of Winter Wonderland takes off from the get-go and never even thinks about landing. Delightful. Buy it!

Sarah Vaughan – “Favorite Things” (1962) foolishly calls this song “lightweight.” They are dead wrong. It is bare bones… in the best way. It is simple, but achingly beautiful. No one could sing like Sarah. No one. Buy it!

Jimmy Smith – “Jingle Bells” (1964)

The album “Christmas Cookin’” that this track comes from is ok, but in this case, too much of Jimmy’s organ is too much of a good thing. However, pop this track into a Christmas mix and it’ll add just the right dash of holiday cool. Buy it!

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