Something Old, Something New, It's Christmastime, What's Wrong With You!
?a-ring-a-ding-ding, baby! But It's all right now?Christmas With the Rat Pack is a gas, gas, gas. JFK was in the Whitehouse and the Chairman of the Board and his board members were tearing up the strip around the Sands in Las Vegas. This disc get my vote for the most fun Christmas release this year. No holiday season can be complete without Dino singing "Baby, It's Cold Outside" or "I've got My Love to Keep Me warm" no matter how poor the arrangement is. Sinatra and Sammy Davis, Jr. are predictable, and being so, offer the most complete entertainment package for even the fussiest of listeners. So light that cigarette and shake that martini and come let us adore Him.
The New Possibility
The New Possibilityis the coupling of two previously released Fahey Christmas discs: The New Possibility (1968) and Christmas with John Fahey, Volume 2 (1975). Collectively, this disc is the king daddy of acoustic guitar Christmas collections. It is at once brilliant, quirky, sublime, and very strange. Reflecting the character of the performer, The New Possibility frames a perfect starkness and density in these holiday selections. The songs are played as if by itinerate minstrels sitting in a benefactor's front parlor. This set is essential because without it, there would have never been Tuck Andress, Ed Gerhard, Michael Hedges, or Leo Kottke. This disc is a must for all holiday music fans.
Michael PraetoriusChristmas Motets / Choral Concertos
(MDG Scene, 1996)
"Es ist ein Ros entsprungen" and "In Dulci Jubilo" are to of the best know pieces written by German choral composer Michael Praetorius (15711621). Praetorius was the son of Lutheran pastor whose choral settings were more often protestant than parochial. He was a contemporary of Claudio Monteverdi and a colleague of Heinrich Sch? Christmas Motets / Choral Concertos features Praetorius' well known "Joseph, Lieber Joseph Mein," "Psallite," and the aforementioned "In Dulci Jubilo." MDG's production is imppecible as expected with the sonics warm and clear. This is the Christmas Praetorius to beat.
Evening Prayers: Purcell Anthems and Sacred Songs
(Telarc Classical, 2003)
Evening Prayers: Purcell Anthems and Sacred Songspresents America's premiere choral group Chanticleer in company with the period-instrument ensemble Capriccio Stravagante for a program of Henry Purcell anthems and choral pieces. The choral performances are typically beautiful and the sonics, both vocal and instrumental are naturally warm. What does this recording have to do with the holidays? Outside of the obvious Christian connection, this disc has nothing to do with the holidays. It simply offers this writer the opportunity to highlight Chanticleer's other fabulous Christmas recordings featured in Christmas with Chanticleer .
The Brian Setzer Orchestra
Boogie Woogie Christmas
(Toy's Factory, 2002)
Here is a "Nutcracker" that smiles. Setzer and his guitar fueled band do Ellington Proud with a vibrant and fun Nutcracker Suite. But that is only where the fun begins. "Jingle Bells" is an Eddie Cochran rave-up with a big band as is "Sleighride." A low burn "Baby, It's Cold Outside," sung with Ann-Margaret is blissfully sexy and "Everyone is Waiting for the Man with the Bag" swings, swings, swings. The best performance is the big band hymn "O Holy Night." The French carol is sung as if by James Dean infusing the spirit of Elvis with Ray Coniff. A must have disc.
The Secret of Christmas
(Minnehana Music, 2003)
On Connie Evingson's recent superb release Let It Be JazzConnie Evingson Sings the Beatles , Ms. Evingson employs some of the most ingenious and engaging arrangements. She is back with a holiday offering that is the finest I have heard this year. Ms. Evingson opens her recital with Claude Thornhill's "Snowfall" coupled with "I Love the Winter Weather. "Carol of the Bells" is brilliantly preformed with lyrics by Evingson, allusions to "My favorite Things," and "Hark, the Herald Angels Sing." "The Shaker hymn, "Simple Gifts" is at the crossroads of country gospel, jazz, and blues. "The Nutcracker Petite Suite" is a crowning achievement in vocal jazz.
This and all pieces published in December 2003 are dedicated to my late Father, Norman L. Bailey (1915-2003).