Most people don’t expect much from Christmas albums, other than a host of familiar songs with a hint of nostalgia to play while decorating the tree. What a treat it is, then, to discover one that raises the bar and doesn’t seem like a half-hearted effort to make a quick buck for the holidays. One could argue that the late fifties and early sixties was the heyday of Christmas albums (everyone from Sinatra to the Chipmunks had one out), and the fact that Ella was capable of turning out a fantastic Christmas album should come as no surprise. She delivers each tune with a childish exuberance combined with flawless technique. From the swinging opener “Jingle Bells” it’s apparent that she and arranger Frank De Vol mean business, generating more heat than the solemn versions of carols heard by other singers. Of course there are the obligatory stabs at creating new standards with new material fashioned at the sessions (has anyone ever successfully done this?), but overall the old chestnuts are the winners, swinging hard and even featuring a solo here or there. It’s surprising that Verve never hit upon the idea of re-releasing this 1960 recording earlier, because once you hear A Swinging Christmas it’s likely to be the first disc in the changer come next season.
Visit Verve on the web at: http://www.vervemusicgroup.com
Track Listing: 1. Jingle Bells 2. Santa Claus Is Coming To Town 3. Have Yourself A
Merry Little Christmas 4. What Are You Doing New Year's Eve? 5. Sleigh
Ride 6. The Christmas Song 7. Good Morning Blues 8. Let It Snow! Let It
Snow! Let It Snow! 9. Winter Wonderland 10. Rudolph, The Red-Nosed
Reindeer 11. Frosty The Snowman 12. White Christmas 13. The Secret Of
Christmas 14. Medley: We Three Kings Of Orient Are/O Little Town Of
Bethlehem 15. Christmas Island 16. The Christmas Song 17. White
Christmas (Alternative Take) 18. Frosty The Snowman (Alternative Take).
Personnel: Ella Fitzgerald-vocals with the Frank De Vol orchestra.
I love jazz because it is in my blood. It is the only original American art form. It is sacred. The greatest musicians are jazz artists.
I was first exposed to jazz in 1961 listening to my father's records of Duke Ellington, Billy Strayhorn, Count Basie, Nat King Cole, Ben Webster, Coleman Hawkins, Lester Young.
I met Sonny Stitt, Wayne Shorter, Branford Marsalis, Joey Calderazzo, Michael Brecker, Cannonball Adderley, Walter Booker, Dave Liebman, Joe Lovano, George Benson, Mike
Stern, Stanley Turrentine, Billy Harper, Skip Hadden, Charlie Haden.
The best show I ever attended was Joe Lovano with Soundprints at the Wexner Center in Columbus Ohio in 2014.
The first jazz record I bought was Miles Smiles.