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4.9 out of 5 stars90
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63 of 64 people found the following review helpful
on November 10, 2004
Ella is perfection. This pairing of Ella and Christmas is beyond wonderful! My parents had one of those old compilation Christmas albums from the 70's (you know, the kind you could get really cheap at hardware and tire stores around the holidays)and it had Ella's version of Sleigh Ride on it. That was my first introduction to Ella. I was hooked, and I've become a life-long fan.

When this CD originally came out in the early 90's, I bought it and fell in love with Ella all over again. Then, when it was remastered and beefed up with extra tracks a few years ago, I bought it again. And I still love every minute of it. (My personal favorite is the laid-back jazz version of Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas. It's much less depressing than the standard take that other singers have given us.)

A word about the "Alternate Takes" at the end of the CD: With the exception of Frosty, these are completely different recordings from the ones on the original album. The alternate versions of The Christmas Song and White Christmas were recorded at a different time with a different orchestra. The arrangements make a nice companion to the versions found on the original album, but they aren't simply "Alternate Takes" from the same recording session. Personally, I like hearing Ella sing the same song with completely different arrangements.

And then there's the alternate Frosty. Yes, it is annoying. But if you know a little about Ella, you know she had a great sense of humor and she loved kids. This wasn't the first time she sang in her "little girl" voice, and I'm sure it wasn't the last. Although it's not my favorite, taken in context I think it's a truly wonderful gem. And if a 6-year-old kid hears her singing Frosty and becomes a life-long fan, then it's definitely worth it to have this version included!
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43 of 45 people found the following review helpful
on November 18, 2003
I wanted this disc last year, but a tight economy and a deluge of fine releases of Christmas albums prevented me from puchasing it. Already owning the original cd release, I decided to wait to buy this release until this year. Good things are worth waiting for, this album is of no exception. The 24 bit remastering of the best masters from this album refreshen the whole listening experience. The result is a surgically clean sonic marvel. The clairity of the backgrounds, including the vocalists, and the crisp tone of Ella's bell-clear voice all make for a joyful rediscovery of a masterful holiday album.
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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
Ella Fitzgerald puts her own stamp on classic Christmas songs on this CD. The songs have a distinctly jazzy feel to them and Ella's voice is strong, vibrant and full of energy as she swings through each song. When the CD ends you want more because every note from Ella is flawless. The musical arrangements are also nicely done.

The CD starts with a jazzy version of "Jingle Bells." "Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas" is performed by Ella in a happier style than the way this song is usually performed; and Ella's touching and poignant rendition of "What Are You Doing New Year's Eve?" is sure to move even the hardest of hearts. Awesome!

Other joyful songs on this CD include "Sleigh Ride;" "Let It Snow! Let It Snow! Let It Snow!;" and "Frosty The Snowman." Ella is ably assisted by a choir on several tracks including "Frosty The Snowman;" "Christmas Island" and "Santa Claus Is Coming To Town."

The LP version of this CD ends with the timeless and melancholy "White Christmas." However, Ella performs this song in a manner that is so singularly beautiful that you just can't help but feel optimistic instead of blue. Bravo, Ella!

The CD version of this album offers much more. "The Secret Of Christmas" is a reflective ballad about celebrating friendships; Ella sings this one song with Russ Garcia and his band. "Christmas Island" is a swinging song about celebrating the holiday on a tropical island in the Caribbean or the Pacific. The backup choir again enhances this song and they back up Ella very smoothly.

There are even three alternate takes of songs on this CD that are released here for the first time. We get unused takes of "The Christmas Song;" "White Christmas" and "Frosty The Snowman." This is a great bonus.

The liner notes include an extensive essay by Will Friedwald; the original artwork for the back cover of the record album jacket; song credits and another short essay about the history of the Verve Music Group.

I highly recommend this CD for Ella's fans as well as anyone who enjoys Christmas music. There is an undeniably jazzy flavor to this album that sets it apart from the rest; jazz enthusiasts will have a blast listening to this CD at holiday time. Frank DeVol does a great job with his orchestra and this also adds a big band flavor to these recordings. You can't go wrong with this timeless CD by Ella Fitzgerald; the Christmas songs are all classics performed with great sensitivity and even the lesser known ballads are exquisite. Get this CD, turn up the volume and enjoy!
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on December 29, 2007
Ella Fitzgerald had one of the prettiest voices ever recorded, and she was a monumental creative genius of American jazz.

I have to concede that Ella did her best work on the jazz standards - and her best work surely outshines what she does on these Christmas standards. Still, this is a genuinely pleasant, upbeat, and jazzy presentation that lets Ella swing things a little.

To tell the truth, it's surprising what Ella can do with a song like "What are you Doing New Year's Eve?"

And Ella's cover of "Good Morning Blues" is remarkble too - like no other.

Definitely worth a spin or two every December.

Eric Alan Isaacson

P.S., If Christmas jazz jingles your bells, check out Santa Claus Blues for original jazz recordings going back to the 1920s, and I've found Jingle Bell Jazz hard to beat for accessible covers of the Christmas standards. Merry Christmas to all!
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on October 4, 2005
Ella is once again in great form for this set of Holiday tunes. Norman Granz, her long-time manager definitely knew what he was doing pairing Ella's outstanding vocals with great orchestrations of some very well known Christmas songs. The result was a hit from the get-go!

Even though the recordings that this CD was compiled from are over 25 years old, they stand the test of time and sound as rich and vibrant as they did when they were originally recorded. The remastering of the of the collection to 24 bit digital format was well worth the effort.

With that said, it was inevitable that Ella would get her hands on the material and make some of these songs her own. Most notably is, what Are You Doing New Years Eve, for which her version is the one most played by radio stations during the holidays year after year.

Ella's rendition of Jingle Bells is superb and injects new life into the song. I love the fast pace and the swinging overdrive towards the end of the song.

Ella also turns in some great versions of The Christmas Song, Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer and Frosty The Snowman.

An additional pleasure on this CD are the alternate takes included of The Christmas Song, White Christmas and Frosty The Snowman. Ellas has fun with these takes and it shows.

All in all , when it comes to getting a textbook interpretation of how a song writer intended a song to be sung, no one comes close to Ella. She is the benchmark from which others model themselves and does not disappoint on this CD.

I cannot imagine the holidays without having this CD in my CD player since I bought the CD.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on November 20, 2002
I'm sorry for the person who wrote the previous review, but the cover that's issued on this new VME CD is the actual original cover of the LP. It's a beautiful painting, and maybe it's too far from the "today taste" but that's what they did in the 60s!
Also the adding of the extra tracks (few of which were released as singles, and other were unissued on any format at this time) is a great thing for all the true fans of Ella Fitzgerald.
A still unissued-on-CD version of "The Christmas song" with Garcia Orchestra was not included on the CD and only avalible as single on vinyl (email me if you want a copy on CD).
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
There isn't much I can add to the other reviews except to say that all of the superlatives mentioned there are true. The only thing I can't figure out is why that one reviewer went only to 4 stars, although upon reading it it seems as though it might have been misplaced as it appears to describe her 1967 Capitol album entitled Ella Fitzgerald's Christmas in which the entire contents are traditional carols, accompanied by Ralph Carmichael's orchestra and chorus..

I recall having the original 1960 Verve MG VS-64042 vinyl LP which encompassed tracks 1 to 12 above. As a Christmas compilation it was "essential" then ... and that hasn't changed to this day. This is, after all, the "first lady of Jazz." In this CD cover the sound quality is excellent and with it you get an insert with two pages of background liner notes written in 2002 by noted music author Will Friedwald and one page giving "a brief history of the Verve Music Group." There is another nice photo of Ella as well as one of Frank DeVol, whose orchestra accompanies her on all but one track, The Secret Of Christmas, which has an orchestra conducted by Russel Garcia accompanying. Another page proves the Master Number and Take for each selection.

If, when the season rolls around, you like throwing on Christmas CDs either at home or in the car, this should be one of those you reach for most often. Truly a gem.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on November 1, 2004
The swinging-est, happiest, merriest of all -- and I do mean all -- Christmas albums! Most remarkable is what Ella does to the traditional more solemn classics, such as "white Christmas", "The Christmas Song" and "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas." She ups the tempo "just so" and adds just the right several ounces of jazz touch to make them upbeat and elegantly swinging. The other songs are fast swing epics. This album together with the "Rat Pack Christmas" are all you need for the season!
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on December 4, 2003
I was a little girl when my parents bought this album. Little did I know that this would be the album that I use to measure all other Christmas albums. No one has come close to Ella's renditions of Christmas songs.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on November 17, 2002
This CD is my Xmas favorite in its original version. The improved sound quality may justify the higher price than the classic 'Swingin' but-but the extra tracks seem hardly worth it. (Alternate version of "Frosty" has Ella singing in a silly little girl voice. The religious tracks don't fit with the secular.) Even the cover seems a bit weird and lacking compared to the original, which is still available and highly recommended.
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