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Christmas brings us many delights, from holiday feasts to decorating the tree. One such delight is holiday music, a tradition almost every artist has embraced. The result runs the gamut from Nat King Cole's sublime “The Christmas Song”, to the strange, The Singing Dogs' “Jingle Bells”. Every year a new holiday album comes out, and this year is no different. Fortunately, the good people at Bluebird have released Swingin' Christmas Party, a compilation that takes us back to when swing was king.
Picture this. You're sitting in the Glen Island Casino with your best gal, sipping a gimlet and smoking a Chesterfield. Glenn Miller and his Orchestra take the stage, and so begins Swingin' Christmas Party. Miller's rendition of “Jingle Bells“ crackles like a roaring Yule log. Tex Beneke's vocals on this number only adds fuel to the already roaring fire. Tommy Dorsey lets all the kids know that “Santa Claus is Coming to Town” with his rousing interpretation. It's a pity that Frank Sinatra wasn't around for this recording.
Nowadays, Vaughn Monroe doesn't get the same recognition as other big band names, and it is a shame. His wonderful arrangement and bass delivery of “Let It Snow! Let It Snow! Let It Snow!” demonstrates his wonderful gifts. It's easy to see how this recording went to the top of the charts.
This collection also features many of the top names from the Swing Era such as Benny Goodman, Sammy Kaye, and Freddy Martin but three others really stand out. Larry Clinton's rendition of “Parade of the Wooden Soldiers” is terrific. He takes this children's classic and gives it a swingin' arrangement that'll knock your socks off. Spike Jones and his City Slickers were known for their spoofs of mainstream hit songs. The novelty, “All I Want For Christmas Is My Two Front Teeth”, is pure juvenile delight. The wacky orchestrations and clever lyric delivery make this a holiday classic.
Guy Lombardo and his Royal Canadians were one of the greatest dance bands of their time. Lombardo's “Auld Lang Syne” is bar none, the definitive version of this song. As long as I can remember, this was the one that everybody played on New Year's Eve, and its inclusion makes this album mandatory for any collector of holiday music.
The selections on Swingin' Christmas Party would please the novice, the seasoned collector of the big band sound, or any holiday music nut.
Track Listing: 1. Jingle Bells performed by Miller, Glen And His Orchestra / Tex
Beneke / Modernaires - 3:04
2. Winter Wonderland performed by Flanagan, Ralph And His
Orchestra - 2:41
3. Santa Claus Is Comin' to Town performed by Dorsey, Tommy And
His Orchestra / Cliff Weston - 3:23
4. Sleigh Ride performed by Martin, Freddy And His Orchestra / Merv
Griffin - 3:11
5. Let It Snow! Let It Snow! Let It Snow! performed by Monroe, Vaughn
And His Orchestra / Norton Sisters - 3:08
6. Snowfall performed by Thornhill, Claude And His Orchestra - 3:22
7. White Christmas performed by Kaye, Sammy And His Orchestra /
Johnny Ryan - 2:58
8. Parade of the Wooden Soldiers performed by Clinton, Larry And His
Orchestra / Ford Leary - 2:44
9. Winter Weather performed by Waller, Fats And His Rhythm - 3:18
10. Santa Claus Came in the Spring performed by Goodman, Benny
And His Orchestra / Joe Harris - 3:09
11. Swingin' Them Jingle Bells performed by Waller, Fats And His
Rhythm - 2:57
12. All I Want for Christmas Is My Two Front... performed by Jones,
Spike And His City Slickers / George Rock - 3:12
13. Auld Lang Syne performed by Lumbardo, Guy And Royal
Canadians - 2:06
Personnel: Guy Lombardo - Arranger
Vaughn Monroe - Vocals
Fats Waller - Piano, Vocals
The Modernaires - Vocals
Tex Beneke - Vocals
Bill Finegan - Arranger
Ford Leary - Vocals
Johnny B. Ryan - Vocals
Merv Griffin - Vocals
Joe Harris - Vocals
George Rock - Vocals
Cliff Weston - Vocals
Edythe Wright - Vocals
Kaye Choir - Vocals
Norton Sisters - Vocals
I love jazz because anything is possible; it has few rules and the best jazz breaks those ones. I prefer free improv because it doesn't really have any rules at all.
I was first exposed to jazz in my teens (in the late sixties).
The first jazz record I bought was Filles de Kilimanjaro by Miles Davis, shortly followed by Extrapolation by John McLaughlin.
My advice to new listeners is to listen as widely as possible and not to make snap judgments--stick with it.