Christmas music can be divided into three categories. The first pop tunes which happen to have the holidays as their theme. Then there is traditional Christmas music, songs whose only appearance comes during the holiday season. Finally, there's the Christmas music with religious or spiritual connotations. Nagel-Heyer's second CD of Christmas music deals mostly with the first category, with a sprinkling from the second and wisely stays away from the third.
This CD has material recorded from 1986 to 1998 and includes cuts from albums released under the Sackville and Arbors labels. Most of the tracks are from the same albums that comprise volume 1 of this series. But it's still good stuff. Charlie Bertini's trumpet is featured on perhaps the most poignant holiday pop song of all, "I'll Be Home for Christmas" familiar to every serviceman at an overseas post since it was written in 1943. Turning the mood 180 degrees, Bertini swings on "Frosty the Snowman". The trumpet player and his friends give this tune typical New Orleans jam session treatment featuring some excellent Allan Vache clarinet and Dave Garnnett tuba. One of the best-selling songs of all times "White Christmas" gets a romantic play by Jim Galloway's tenor, while the blues are added with Jay McShann's vocalizing on "Merry Christmas Baby". Mark Shane's X-mas Allstars get the bulk of playing time as they are responsible for four of the cuts. James Chirillo's guitar is front and center on an up tempo "Jingle Bells" while on "God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen" Chirillo and friends get a bit funky. Jon-Erik Kellso's trumpet, open and muted, gets a lot of play on this track. One of the albums highlights is an ardent rendition of "Silver Bells" sung by Linda Fields backed by a group headed by Jan Harrington.
All in all, this CD is good jazz whose theme happens to be the Christmas season. The performances can stand on their own any time of the year. Recommended.