Have Yourself a Jazzy Little Christmas
December 21, 2011 11:27 AM   Subscribe

If you enjoy instrumental jazz and Christmas music, you might enjoy The Best Jazz Christmas Record You've Never Heard. ""Christmas With The Believers" turned out to be the best jazz Christmas music I had ever heard, and that's still the case today. I'll take the imaginative arrangements, chops, tight playing, and sense of swing on this recording over anything I've heard by the legends in this field." It's presented here as a cassette recording from Fall '86, with Donny Schwekendiek on piano, Neal Heidler on the bass and Narry Puhlovski on the drums.
posted by filthy light thief (26 comments total) 32 users marked this as a favorite
Tip of the hi-hats to arse_hat on MetaChat.
posted by filthy light thief at 11:29 AM on December 21, 2011 [1 favorite]

I've been looking for a good holiday jazz album, and this hits the spot--not too cheesy, has a genuine jazz feel. Thanks for sharing!
posted by smirkette at 11:49 AM on December 21, 2011

A tracklist, for those hesitant to download something sight unseen:

White Christmas (4:29)
Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas (7:16)
O Christmas Tree (5:17)
Santa Claus is Coming to Town (3:59)
The Christmas Song (5:39)
Sleigh Ride (4:31)

And a few descriptions of Christmas jazz albums, if you're looking for something more/else.
posted by filthy light thief at 11:57 AM on December 21, 2011 [2 favorites]

I normally can't tolerate "Santa Claus is Coming to Town" at all, but this version goes down really well.
posted by smirkette at 11:58 AM on December 21, 2011

I dig this. Thank you!
posted by everichon at 12:10 PM on December 21, 2011

Oscar Peterson's Christmas album is also highly palatable.
posted by shakespeherian at 12:12 PM on December 21, 2011 [1 favorite]

My favorite xmas album of just about any style is probably Ella Fitzgerald's Ella Wishes You a Swinging Christmas. But I'm listening to "Christmas With The Believers" as I write, and it is pretty good, too. Thanks for this heads-up.
posted by 2N2222 at 12:23 PM on December 21, 2011

Vince Guaraldi's soundtrack for A Charlie Brown Christmas needs to be on this list.
posted by Greg_Ace at 12:33 PM on December 21, 2011 [1 favorite]

Enjoyed that, thanks. I'll put in a plug for John Zorn's new Christmas album (!?), A Dreamers Christmas.
posted by casaubon at 12:40 PM on December 21, 2011 [1 favorite]

Another favorite: Cool Yule.

I picked this up several years ago at a Pier One (of all places) and have enjoyed the heck out of it. Lena Horne's version of 'Let It Snow' has to be the best version ever.
posted by magstheaxe at 12:46 PM on December 21, 2011

I used to love the Charlie Brown Christmas album, but it got really, really played out in my circle over the last six years or so. Which is a shame because Vince Guaraldi is ten kinds of awesome.
posted by smirkette at 12:53 PM on December 21, 2011 [1 favorite]

Butch Thompson has a solo piano Christmas album called "Yulestride" that allowed some room for Vince Guraldi to take a well-deserved rest.
posted by wenestvedt at 1:17 PM on December 21, 2011

Here's another pro tip:

Vince Guaraldi may be played out (and I love this album but agree it's overplayed), however, type in Vince Guaraldi Trio radio on Pandora, being sure to choose the Holiday option. This way you get Charlie Brown Christmas every 6 or 7 songs or so and then mucho goodness in between. Trust me, this has been my goto for the last 3 xmas seasons.
posted by jeremias at 3:38 PM on December 21, 2011 [2 favorites]

This version of O Holy Night [mp3] is pretty good.
posted by unliteral at 3:43 PM on December 21, 2011

I avoid it being "overplayed" by absolutely avoiding all Christmas-related music except for Christmas Eve itself. I pull out and dust off my four favorite jazz-based Christmas albums (including Guaraldi's), listen to them once, then put them away satisfied for another year. I highly recommend the practice.
posted by Greg_Ace at 3:46 PM on December 21, 2011

It's not really jazz, although it is... Carla Bley's Carla's Christmas Carols. Brilliant brass arrangements of familiar songs which will delight the ear with their inventiveness, and even make the familiar versions feel fresh again due to its insights. I can't recommend it highly enough. One of the best albums ever, christmas or not.
posted by hippybear at 4:24 PM on December 21, 2011 [1 favorite]

This can't possibly be the best jazz Christmas record ever, because it doesn't have a Hammond B-3 organ on it! I'll stick with Christmas with McGriff (SLYT). Warning: may cause your eardrums to freeze solid, it's that cold.
posted by Fnarf at 5:16 PM on December 21, 2011 [2 favorites]

Which reminds me; many know Bill Evans' trio rendition of "Santa Claus is Coming to Town", but to hear Bill actually singing the tune in his native New Jersey twangy voice is something else all together.
posted by Seekerofsplendor at 7:30 PM on December 21, 2011 [1 favorite]

The Ultra-Lounge / Christmas Cocktails series looks pretty good: 1; 2; 3.
posted by marsha56 at 7:40 PM on December 21, 2011

I received a recommendation for some older swinging jazz: The Ramsey Lewis Trio: The Sound Of Christmas (1961) (Christmas Blues, The Sound of Christmas).

If you want a modern take on some jazzy classics, Merry Mixmas (2005) is fun (Kay Starr vs Thunderball, Les Brown vs Psapp).
posted by filthy light thief at 9:24 PM on December 21, 2011 [1 favorite]

Thelonious Monk's Solo Monk (Spotify Link) isn't a Christmas album, but it has a certain wintery charm that makes me dust it off most Decembers.
posted by SpiffyRob at 7:18 AM on December 22, 2011

I'm usually skeptical of things recommended on MF because (for me) they usually just don't live up to the hype, but omg this is really great! Thanks so much!!!

It will now go into the 23 hours of Christmas music on my ipod. Cool!
posted by freakazoid at 7:34 AM on December 22, 2011 [1 favorite]

This would be fine to throw on in the background when nobody is actually listening. Otherwise it's as good as any below-average lounge act playing at a restaurant where everyone is secretly wishing they'd stop and pack up and get the hell out already.
posted by ReeMonster at 8:35 AM on December 22, 2011

And merry Christmas to you too Timmy.
posted by shakespeherian at 8:38 AM on December 22, 2011 [1 favorite]

ReeMonster - I've heard plenty of "lounge act" jazz groups, good and bad, and this one is definitely not below-average. You're allowed not to like it, but I'm also allowed to be equivocal about your basis of measurement and level of familiarity with jazz as a genre.
posted by Greg_Ace at 11:36 AM on December 22, 2011 [1 favorite]

I really like this album, it's already going on heavy holiday rotation & reminds me of my actual favorite Jazz holiday album "Sound of Christmas" by Ramsey Lewis. YMMV, but I like what I like. Also thanks Filthy Light Thief and Happy Holidays to all!
posted by evilDoug at 12:23 PM on December 22, 2011 [2 favorites]

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