More Christmas music

(Not about language.)

From Don Steiny, a large assortment of Christmas music that’s off the beaten track. He and I had been talking about our dislike for most “holiday music”, and he pointed me to musicians, mostly jazz musicians, who have done good things with many songs, including some — like “Sleigh Ride” and “The Little Drummer Boy” — that I had thought were unredeemable. An inventory follows.

To start: from those monuments of gospel music, the Blind Boys of Alabama (now in their 70s), the album Go Tell It on the Mountain, which is gospel with a twist: collaborations with Aaron Neville, Chrissie Hynde, Mavis Staples, Michael Franti, George Clinton, Robert Randolph, Tom Waits (the big surprise for me), Solomon Burke, Shelby Lynne, Meshell Ndegeocello, and Les McCann.

Then jazz:

pianist John Eidsvoog, with Christmas Time Is Here; take time seriously, as in “Sleigh Ride” in 7/8 time;

the Nylons, with Harmony: The Christmas Songs;

the Temptations, with Best of the Temptations Christmas;

a Christmas jazz piano collection, with pieces played by the Vince Guaraldi Trio (five songs), John Eidsvoog, Bill Evans (“Santa Claus Is Coming to Town”), Oscar Peterson (“A Child Is Born”), and George Winston (“Carol of the Bells”);

and Brian Culbertson, with a super (wordless) version of “The Little Drummer Boy”.

Lots to listen to this week. And KFJC’s holiday music is still to come; last year’s playlist included Gefillte Joe and the Fish (“Hanukah Rocks”), Jethro Tull (“Ring Out, Solstice Bells”), Spinal Tap (“Christmas with the Devil”), Bob and Doug McKenzie (“12 Days of Christmas”), Leon Redbone (“Christmas Island”), Shonen Knife (“Space Christmas”), the Ronettes (“Sleigh Ride”), Liberace (“Ave Maria”), and much more.

3 Responses to “More Christmas music”

  1. arnold zwicky Says:

    From Billy Green on Facebook:

    In the spirit of the KFJC list, one of my favorite quirky holiday discoveries in recent years would be Petty Booka’s Christmas CD, including versions of “Christmas Island” and “Mele Kalikimaka” (otherwise it’s surprisingly ho-hum). Very difficult to find, though you can hear a sample at

  2. Greg Stump Says:

    For funkateers: Bootsy Collins’ “Christmas Is 4 Ever”
    For salseras and salseros: Willie Colón’ s “Asalto Navideño”

  3. Hippopotamuses and other Christmas wants « Arnold Zwicky's Blog Says:

    […] on my most recent Christmas music posting, focusing on the unusual (or actively silly), Elizabeth Daingerfield Zwicky reminded me about […]

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