All About Jazz needs your help and we have a deal. Contribute $20 (or more) and we'll hide those six pesky Google ads that appear on every page for a full year! You'll also fund website expansion.


I want to help

770

Top Ten Christmas Jazz Recordings Of All-Time

Ken Hohman By
Published:
Sign in to view read count


While moldy Christmas songs and great jazz seem as compatible as egg nog and Tanqueray, there have been instances where the planets have aligned to create songs that display the best of both genres. Ten instances, to be exact, and you'll find them below. Do you agree? Then post your holiday toast to my list. Don't agree? Post the all-time Christmas jazz song of your choice at the All About Jazz Forum. I will save a special lump of coal just for you.


"The Christmas Song" by Dexter Gordon
From The Panther! (Original Jazz Classics)

Master of the saxophone ballad transforms a holiday pop favorite into a soulful blues improvisation.

Enter the album name here
"Here Comes Santa Claus" by Ramsey Lewis
From Sound Of Christmas (Chess/MCA)

In their prime, Ramsey Lewis and his trio could make anything sound great. Here lies the proof.


"Jingle Bells" by Duke Ellington & His Orchestra
From Jingle Bell Swing (Columbia/Legacy)

Classic Duke sound and great choruses played with typical economy from his sidemen circa 1962.


"Skating" by Vince Guaraldi
From A Charlie Brown Christmas (Fantasy)

The melody captures the essence of the title in this masterpiece from the uncanny Guaraldi.


"Good Morning Blues" by Ella Fitzgerald
From Ella Wishes You A Swinging Christmas (Verve)

A hipster-ish Ella swings the Basie blues in merry 6/8 time.


"What Are You Doing New Year's Eve?" by Ella Fitzgerald
From Ella Wishes You A Swinging Christmas (Verve)

No one does this song better. The shyness and longing of Ella's persona are palpable.


"Christmas In New Orleans" by Louis Armstrong with the Benny Carter Orchestra
From Hipster's Holiday (Rhino)

Louis recorded a lot of Christmas tunes. This one wins for the combination of Armstrong's obvious love for his subject and golden trumpet cadenzas.


"O' Tannenbaum" by Vince Guaraldi
From A Charlie Brown Christmas (Fantasy)

Guaraldi's elegantly stated theme and sudden shift to 4/4 create yuletide jazz perfection. Is this the most popular jazz song of all time?


"White Christmas" by Charlie Parker All-Stars
From Jingle Bell Jam (Verve)

Every family should serve up some Christmas Bird.


"Snowfall" by Ahmad Jamal Trio
From Cross Country Tour 1958-1961 (Chess MCA)

I've never heard a bad version of this aptly titled Claude Thornhill song, but Jamal's version is exceptional for his unexpected phrasing and Vernel Fournier's gently marching snare.

Shop For Jazz

CD/LP/Track Review
Building a Jazz Library
Top Ten List
Mixed Tape
Opinion/Editorial
Book Reviews
Book Excerpts
Read more articles
A Charlie Brown Christmas
A Charlie Brown...
Fantasy Jazz
2015
buy
The Very Best of Vince Guaraldi
The Very Best of...
Fantasy Jazz
2012
buy
Peanuts Portraits
Peanuts Portraits
Concord Music Group
2010
buy
Essential Standards
Essential Standards
Concord Music Group
2009
buy
The Definitive Vince Guaraldi
The Definitive Vince...
Fantasy Jazz
2009
buy
The Lost Cues From The Charlie Brown Television Specials, Volume 1
The Lost Cues From...
D&D
2007
buy
Bill Evans Bill Evans
piano
Ahmad Jamal Ahmad Jamal
piano
Dave Brubeck Dave Brubeck
piano
Stan Getz Stan Getz
sax, tenor
Carmen McRae Carmen McRae
vocalist
Tony Bennett Tony Bennett
vocalist

Post a comment

comments powered by Disqus

Join the staff. Writers Wanted!

Develop a column, write album reviews, cover live shows, or conduct interviews.