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Christmas With Jimmy Mcgriff
Christmas With Jimmy Mcgriff
Price: $14.08
25 used & new from $1.75

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A lot of Christmas fun!, December 3, 2010
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Jimmy McGriff's Christmas album is lively fun! He leads a jazz organ group, and they really go to town on well-known Christmas standards (as well as some originals). We've been playing this disc a lot since we got it a few weeks ago (and that's out of over 200 Xmas CDs) -- it adds energy to the Christmas season!

If you like this album, you may also like organist Jimmy Smith's "Christmas '64" album (also reissued earlier under a different title), which is a real classic.


Christmas Anthology
Christmas Anthology
2 used & new from $82.00

11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent Christmas collection with some less-known recordings, December 2, 2010
This review is from: Christmas Anthology (Audio CD)
I'm also a big collector of Christmas music (mostly pre-1970: jazz, big band, blues, rock, R&B, classical, pre-rock vocalists, country), and I found this to be a very well done collection that has some rare recordings that I, at least, have never heard before. We have over 200 Christmas CDs in our collection at home, including many that are from the big band era like this two-disc set, so I was surprised that they came up with material that was new to me.

Yes, there are some familiar commercial recordings that have been reissued numerous times (for example, Louis Prima's "What Will Santa Say? (When He Finds Everybody Swingin')"; Vaughn Monroe's "Let It Snow"). There are also some radio broadcast recordings that also aren't all that hard to find on CD (for example, Glenn Miller's "Jingle Bells"). These are all very enjoyable, but I've heard them before.

But the compilers here have also dug up some sides that were completely new to me: the Nat King Cole Trio's very lively "Jingle Bells" from a radio transcription disc is one. There are also different versions of familiar holiday hits: the "White Christmas" by Bing Crosby and "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas" by Judy Garland on this set, for example, aren't the commercial versions that are on every other anthology, but less well known radio broadcast recordings. Both performances are very good. The version of Dick Haymes' "O Little Town of Bethlehem" here is from a V-Disc, and "Good Morning Blues (I Wanna See Santa Claus)" by the great Count Basie is a broadcast recording instead of the more familiar commercial record. And the compilers have also included some British performers who may be new to some American listeners (e.g., Lew Stone and His Band on "Winter Wonderland," which I'd heard before; and one that I hadn't, the Three Sisters singing "The Fairy on the Christmas Tree" with harmonies that seem to come from the film version of The Wizard of Oz).

The sound quality is generally quite good for music of this age (1930-1950), although there are one or two cuts that are not as good as the rest. (Unfortunately, Perry Como's "I'll Be Home For Christmas," while a good perfomance from a radio program, is in much lower fidelity than the remainder of the material.) Overall, the remastering here was very well done. I also appreciate it that the compilers have carefully edited out the audience applause from the broadcast recordings, so that they fit more seamlessly with the commercial recordings. (I do like the live feel of broadcast recordings with applause, but it's kind of nice here that it doesn't disrupt the flow.)

So, while this CD set does have some very familiar recordings, it also has some nice surprises, with very good sound quality on most. The compilers did a very creative job of choosing a fine selection of holiday tunes that most fans of big band music will probably enjoy.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Dec 10, 2010 1:05 PM PST


Christmas Is ... Percy Faith, His Orchestra and Chorus
Christmas Is ... Percy Faith, His Orchestra and Chorus
Price: $8.41
38 used & new from $5.99

4.0 out of 5 stars Relaxed listening for the holidays, November 29, 2010
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I don't have a long history of listening to Percy Faith's Christmas music, like some of the other commenters, but in recent years, I found that I always enjoyed his music when I heard it on one of XM's Christmas channels. While "easy listening" music seemed a bit dull to me when I was growing up in the 60s and 70s, I now find that it's very enjoyable in its Christmas guise, and Percy Faith is one of the best practitioners in that genre. His arrangements of these familiar holiday tunes are interesting enough to keep your attention, but are relaxed in a way that'll allow you to wind down after a hard day while listening to some beloved Christmas songs.


Jelly Roll Morton: 1926-1930
Jelly Roll Morton: 1926-1930
Price: $24.99
64 used & new from $12.96

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Outstanding music, outstanding sound quality, April 29, 2010
That Jelly Roll Morton was a jazz master needs no confirmation from me. If you care at all about the history of jazz or simply want to hear some great music from the late 20s and early 30s, this is an essential set.

Part of what makes it essential is the outstanding job that the late John R.T. Davies did in remastering the recordings for JSP's CDs. The sound quality equals the best that I've ever heard with recordings of this age -- a very full tonal range from treble to bass, with few songs marred by clicks, pops, or other distortions. Mr. Davies produced discs that give you much more of Morton's sound than did the RCA remasters, which were issued during the early 90s heyday of noise reduction overuse. (Jazz critic and Grinnell College graduate Gary Giddins acclaimed the sound quality of this JSP set in his Visions of Jazz volume.)

Another reason to get this set: a very low price.

You just can't go wrong here. This may not be the fanciest box set -- JSP keeps things simple -- but there are some fairly decent liner notes with each disc.

And the music can't be beat.


1928-1935
1928-1935
Price: $37.63
15 used & new from $27.99

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Outstanding collection -- typical of Jazz Oracle's high standards, February 26, 2010
This review is from: 1928-1935 (Audio CD)
I fully agree with the other, more detailed reviews that this is a truly outstanding collection of hot jazz and dance music, featuring a mostly forgotten trumpeter who has a lot to offer.

Jack Purvis may not be as well known as some his contemporaries, like Bix, Louis, Red Nichols, or Bunny Berrigan, but his playing is well worth hearing, with a very nice tone and the ability to perform beautifully both on the written arrangements and in his improvised parts.

One thing I really like about this collection is that Purvis is playing with quite a few different groups. His trumpet ties the collection together, but you also get a wide variety of vocalists and instrumental performers, both well known and obscure, as well as everything from instrumental jazz to vocal performances of popular tunes. So even though there are 74 cuts here, I never tired of listening because there was always something a little different around the next corner.

I want to put in a good word for the Jazz Oracle label. I've gotten several of their releases recently, and every one of them has been outstanding -- excellent choices for the cuts, very good sound quality (here via transfers by the late, great John R.T. Davies), and well-researched, well-written booklets. Among others, I also have their Isham Jones, Roger Wolfe Kahn, and Red Nichols collections, and I hope to get many more of them -- each one has been exactly what it should be.

If you like hot jazz/dance music, don't overlook this 3-CD Jack Purvis collection. He may be obscure today, but he literally played a part in a lot of good music.


Jingle Bell Swing
Jingle Bell Swing
Price: $6.50
65 used & new from $0.91

8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Outstanding collection, January 7, 2010
This review is from: Jingle Bell Swing (Audio CD)
This is, without question, one of the best collections of jazz-oriented Christmas music available. Everything from Benny Goodman and Peggy Lee to Duke Ellington, from Miles Davis to Art Carney's hip-talking jazz rap on "Twas the Night Before Christmas."

To top it off, this CD is now offered for a price ($4.99) that makes it one of the best values out there.

If you're a fan of jazz and Christmas music, you'll want this outstanding compilation!


Christmas at the Ranch
Christmas at the Ranch
Price: $9.68
71 used & new from $3.00

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Beautifully Conceived and Performed Christmas Collection, November 6, 2009
This review is from: Christmas at the Ranch (Audio CD)
I haven't heard the remastered and revised version of Ben Keith's Christmas album yet -- originally called "Seven Gates" but now retitled "Christmas at the Ranch" -- but I know the original album well and really love it. I would expect the new version to be at least as good, if not better.

Ben, the long-time pedal steel and slide guitarist for Neil Young, apparently always wanted to add some new elements to the original album, and once he did so, he gave the revised version a new title, to distinguish it from the original release.

Neil Young, as well as J.J. Cale, Neil's wife Pegi Young, Johnny Cash, Nicolette Larson, and Rusty Kershaw are among the guests.

The tracks are split between instrumental and vocal versions, with the singing handled by Ben's guests. This is no cheesy "guest star" album, though -- Mr. Keith has done an outstanding job of creating an album that's stylistically and thematically consistent throughout. The style is a gentle country/folk sound, and the theme is, of course, Christmas.

As you've probably seen, the song selections include both well-known Christmas classics (Silver Bells, It Came Upon a Midnight Clear, Greensleeves/What Child Is This) as well as less well-known but beautifully performed songs like We Will Rock You (Rocking) [not the Queen song of similar title] and Christmas Time's A-Comin', which maintain the holiday feeling. Little Drummer Boy is, if I remember correctly, a vocal duet between Johnny Cash and Neil Young, and it's one of the best versions of this song (better than even Johnny's own solo version).

I highly recommend this beautiful holiday album conceived by a master musician, Ben Keith.


Christmas in the Heart
Christmas in the Heart
Price: $23.00
58 used & new from $0.01

0 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A very good Christmas album from Bob, October 29, 2009
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: Christmas in the Heart (Audio CD)
I like Dylan's Christmas album a lot. I wouldn't argue that this is one of Bob's greatest albums -- it's certainly no Blood on the Tracks or Highway 61 -- but I think it sounds pretty darn good, although I'll admit to being a sucker for most Christmas music. I guess it's a matter of personal taste.

I'm not at all surprised that Bob did a Christmas album -- it seems very likely that he's listened to a lot of that stuff. Everyone remembers the pop singers like Andy Williams who've recorded Christmas music, whom you might not imagine Bob listening to, but there's also a long history of old-time country, blues, jazz, and R&B holiday music -- Bob featured some of it on his own 2-hour XM Christmas show. (Anyone interested in some unusual and amazing traditional blues, country, and international Xmas tunes -- check out "Where Will You Be Christmas Day?" from the Dust-to-Digital label.)

The Louvin Bros., Johnny Cash, Elvis, Charlie Parker, the Maddox Bros. & Rose, Al Jolson, the Everlys, the Staples, BB King, Miles Davis, Pete Seeger (and his half-siblings), Duke Ellington, and even Bessie Smith all recorded one or more Christmas songs or albums. These are artists with whom Bob is undoubtedly familiar (and probably likes), and if I had my Christmas CD collection here, I could name dozens of others.

And let's not forget Bing Crosby, the Voice of Christmas. Bob's recent Modern Times album shows very strong influences of Crosby (with Bob actually re-writing some of Bing's 30s hits), so I'd guess that Dylan not only grew up hearing Bing, but has listened to him a lot since then, including his large Christmas catalog. Is it any surprise that Bob would follow Bing into the Christmas genre?

Then there are Bob's musical contemporaries, like Chuck Berry, the Beatles (together and individually), Aretha Franklin, Phil Spector, Booker T & The MGs, Leon Redbone, and many others, all of whom have recorded Christmas tunes.

So it makes perfect sense to me that Bob is joining this long line of
musical artists in recording some Christmas music. He obviously knows
the genre well and has melded the polished "traditional" holiday musical arrangements with his own style -- including some pedal steel guitar, accordian, and other elements of his recent recordings. It sounds fine to me.

I kind of wonder if he was going for a sound like the Louvin Bros. Christmas album, which has polished arrangements that still have a strong country flavor. I've always liked that album a great deal, and I think Bob has captured some of that sound.

One big difference, of course, is that Bob doesn't have the vocal purity that the Louvins did, so perhaps he would have done better in a rougher style, drawing more on blues-, country-, and R&B-based Christmas songs (including the Louvins' own holiday song "It's Christmas Time"), rather than holiday standards. One possible alternative model might have been Ben Keith's Christmas album "Seven Gates," which had less polished but well-played arrangements and featured guests like Neil Young and Johnny Cash (not that I would have wanted one of those cheesy "guest star" albums -- which Ben's is not). Ben, who is a longtime steel guitarist for Young, did include well known Christmas standards on his album (overlapping some with Bob's selections), but he also used some less known holiday songs, and the arrangements give them all a consistent style that works well, in my opinion. Bob has done something similarly successful.

Christmas songs can be hard to do right unless the artist chooses the right songs and right arrangements for his/her personal style. So I understand that some folks might not go for this album, esp. those who don't think Bob should record other songwriters' tunes or those who don't like the more polished arrangements of much holiday fare. But I like holiday standards, and I like unusual versions of those songs in unexpected styles -- and that's what Bob has given us. (Plus I actually wrote to Bob's XM Radio e-mail address about a year ago to suggest that he record a Xmas record -- no kidding. I'm absolutely sure that I had nothing to do with him doing so, but even if not, he gave me what I wanted.)

And it's very, very cool that he's donating the proceeds to charities that feed the hungry. Maybe he's emulating Dickens now, as well as the old bluesmen.

Good job, Bob, and Merry Christmas.


Christmas In The Heart
Christmas In The Heart
Price: $6.99
113 used & new from $0.01

1 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A very good Christmas album from Bob, October 26, 2009
This review is from: Christmas In The Heart (Audio CD)
I like Dylan's Christmas album a lot. I wouldn't argue that this is one of Bob's greatest albums -- it's certainly no Blood on the Tracks or Highway 61 -- but I think it sounds pretty darn good, although I'll admit to being a sucker for most Christmas music. I guess it's a matter of personal taste.

I'm not at all surprised that Bob did a Christmas album -- it seems very likely that he's listened to a lot of that stuff. Everyone remembers the pop singers like Andy Williams who've recorded Christmas music, whom you might not imagine Bob listening to, but there's also a long history of old-time country, blues, jazz, and R&B holiday music -- Bob featured some of it on his own 2-hour XM Christmas show. (Anyone interested in some unusual and amazing traditional blues, country, and international Xmas tunes -- check out "Where Will You Be Christmas Day?" from the Dust-to-Digital label.)

The Louvin Bros., Johnny Cash, Elvis, Charlie Parker, the Maddox Bros. & Rose, Al Jolson, the Everlys, the Staples, BB King, Miles Davis, Pete Seeger (and his half-siblings), Duke Ellington, and even Bessie Smith all recorded one or more Christmas songs or albums. These are artists with whom Bob is undoubtedly familiar (and probably likes), and if I had my Christmas CD collection here, I could name dozens of others.

And let's not forget Bing Crosby, the Voice of Christmas. Bob's recent Modern Times album shows very strong influences of Crosby (with Bob actually re-writing some of Bing's 30s hits), so I'd guess that Dylan not only grew up hearing Bing, but has listened to him a lot since then, including his large Christmas catalog. Is it any surprise that Bob would follow Bing into the Christmas genre?

Then there are Bob's musical contemporaries, like Chuck Berry, the Beatles (together and individually), Aretha Franklin, Phil Spector, Booker T & The MGs, Leon Redbone, and many others, all of whom have recorded Christmas tunes.

So it makes perfect sense to me that Bob is joining this long line of
musical artists in recording some Christmas music. He obviously knows
the genre well and has melded the polished "traditional" holiday musical arrangements with his own style -- including some pedal steel guitar, accordian, and other elements of his recent recordings. It sounds fine to me.

I kind of wonder if he was going for a sound like the Louvin Bros. Christmas album, which has polished arrangements that still have a strong country flavor. I've always liked that album a great deal, and I think Bob has captured some of that sound.

One big difference, of course, is that Bob doesn't have the vocal purity that the Louvins did, so perhaps he would have done better in a rougher style, drawing more on blues-, country-, and R&B-based Christmas songs (including the Louvins' own holiday song "It's Christmas Time"), rather than holiday standards. One possible alternative model might have been Ben Keith's Christmas album "Seven Gates," which had less polished but well-played arrangements and featured guests like Neil Young and Johnny Cash (not that I would have wanted one of those cheesy "guest star" albums -- which Ben's is not). Ben, who is a longtime steel guitarist for Young, did include well known Christmas standards on his album (overlapping some with Bob's selections), but he also used some less known holiday songs, and the arrangements give them all a consistent style that works well, in my opinion. Bob has done something similarly successful.

Christmas songs can be hard to do right unless the artist chooses the right songs and right arrangements for his/her personal style. So I understand that some folks might not go for this album, esp. those who don't think Bob should record other songwriters' tunes or those who don't like the more polished arrangements of much holiday fare. But I like holiday standards, and I like unusual versions of those songs in unexpected styles -- and that's what Bob has given us. (Plus I actually wrote to Bob's XM Radio e-mail address about a year ago to suggest that he record a Xmas record -- no kidding. I'm absolutely sure that I had nothing to do with him doing so, but even if not, he gave me what I wanted.)

And it's very, very cool that he's donating the proceeds to charity that feeds the hungry. Maybe he's emulating Dickens now, as well as the old bluesmen.

Good job, Bob, and Merry Christmas.


Christmas With Sinatra & Friends
Christmas With Sinatra & Friends
Offered by My Romance
Price: $10.26
45 used & new from $0.31

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Winning holiday collection from Frank and friends, October 26, 2009
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
There a couple of bonuses hidden here among what appear to be well known holiday tracks by Frank Sinatra and his friends.

First, these aren't Frank's usual Rat Pack friends (Dino and Sammy), who are featured on another excellent Christmas collection. Instead, here you have Tony Bennett, whom Frank called his favorite singer, as well as Mel Torme, Rosemary Clooney, and, in a duet, Ray Charles and Betty Carter, all of whom add some very nice variety to this collection.

The Sinatra cuts are primarily Christmas songs from his post-Capitol career and, while some are not the usual familiar standards (for example, "An Old-Fashioned Christmas"), they are all very, very good performances. But there are a couple of nice surprises that aren't featured on any of his original Christmas albums: from Frank's 1957 holiday TV show, we get renditions of "Santa Claus is Coming To Town" and "Mistletoe and Holly," sung while Frank's voice was in its Capitol-era prime.

The tracks by Mel Torme ("The Christmas Song") and Rosemary Clooney ("White Christmas") are from the very good holiday albums that they made in the 90s for Concord Records, the issuer of this compilation. Tony Bennett performs "A Child Is Born" with virtuoso jazz pianist Bill Evans -- not usually considered a holiday song, but it fits right in here, and is an excellent performance by both artists. Of course, you can't go wrong with Ray Charles and Betty Carter on the winter duet classic, "Baby It's Cold Outside."

The compilers of this album did a very good job of picking some stylistically consistent tracks by Sinatra's peers to spice up what might have been just another reissue of Frank's Christmas music. (Good as it is, most of it is out there already.) Throw in the two surprises from Frank's TV show and you have a very winning holiday collection.


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