The Ramsey Lewis Trio: The Sound Of Christmas (1961)
Lewis and his trio barrel through the first five songs with a healthy dose of jubilant bounce and a penchant for uncovering the unexpected blue notes in carols. He glides through "Winter Wonderland" with heavy, funky chords and a propulsive snap but takes a more reverent approach on "Santa Claus Is Coming To Town," a slow, gospel-tinged treatment.
The latter half of the album adds a string section (which fortunately doesn't oversaturate the music with glitz like on other Christmas albums) and Lewis tinkers around with the celeste a little bit here. "The Sound Of Christmas" is one of the most euphoric songs, a cascading wash of strings and bells awash with the glee of holiday tunes. While Lewis deserves most of the credit, Eldee Young and Redd Holt also deserve an extra candy cane for providing such enthusiastic support.
Simply put, this is one of the most flat-out fun jazz Christmas albums you'll find. Lewis avoids the overly reverentno "Silent Night" or "What Child Is This?"in favor of songs he can tear through with the brisk gait of a sleigh ride and the delight of a full stocking. Lewis was later criticized for his eagerness to land on the charts, but his sensitivity to the tastes of the public served him well here.
Track Listing: 1. Merry Christmas Baby 2. Winter Wonderland 3. Santa Claus Is Coming To Town 4. Christmas Blues 5. Here Comes Santa Claus 6. The Sound Of Christmas 7. The Christmas Song 8. God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen 9. Sleigh Ride 10. What Are You Doing New Year's Eve?
Personnel: Ramsey Lewis - piano; Eldee Young - bass; Redd Holt - drums; string section on 6-10.
Record Label: Verve Music Group