Music critics' Christmas suggestions include Bob Dylan
05:00 AM, Dec 24, 2013
CHRISTMAS IN THE HEART. Best Christmas album? The romantic in me says something by Bing or Nat King Cole. But my contemporary ears love Bruce Cockburn’s 1993 Christmas. And this one. I should put a moratorium on listening to Dylan, but indulge me. This release came out five years ago, and it’s the Christmas record that has everyone doing a double-take when they hear it at my house. Dylan’s in a relaxed mood, craggily singing the first verse of “O Come, All Ye Faithful” in the original Latin, thinkin’ about roasting some chestnuts on an open fire. You have to be a fan to really worship this collection, but many of the arrangements are familiar. “Must Be Santa” even keeps intact the polka beat and accordion of the Brave Combo version. He’s always loved traditional tunes, and what could be more traditional than “O Little Town of Bethlehem”?
HIP SANTA. Lots of Christmas jazz is found on compilations. How about making your own? I suggest you “cherry pick” individual tracks off iTunes or Amazon to make your own holiday album. Grab two versions of “Santa Claus Is Coming to Town” by Bill Evans and by Eddie “Lockjaw” Davis. (Evans recorded it several times. My favorite is on Further Conversations, where the great pianist triple-tracks himself.) Also compare the all-bass version of “Double Decker (Deck the Halls)” by Christian McBride, and “Deck the Halls” by pianist Bobby Timmons. Two holiday songs by legends that never recorded a second Christmas tune are “White Christmas” and “Jingle Bells,” by Charlie Parker and Duke Ellington, respectively. Then there’s “O Christmas Tree” by Russell Malone, “Frosty the Snowman” by Roy Hargrove and Christian McBride, “The Christmas Waltz by Pat LaBarbara, a rockin’ “White Christmas” by Allen Toussaint, “The Christmas Song” by Dexter Gordon, “Winter Wonderland” by Red Garland, “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” by Joe Pass, “Sleigh Ride” by Duke Pearson, and “England’s Carol #1 (God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen)” by the Modern Jazz Quartet. Merry Christmas!
Sheila Rayam’s reviews will return.