JazzTimes 10: Classic Jazz Christmas Albums

Recordings that always make for a cool Yule

Vince Guaraldi Trio: A Charlie Brown Christmas
  1. Stan Kenton: A Merry Christmas! (Capitol, 1961)

If Christmas hadn’t existed, Stan Kenton would have had to invent it. Whether you regard his music as progressive or bombastic, the holiday and its attendant hoopla seem tailor-made for Kenton’s brand of ambitious arrangements, robust brasses, and operatic percussion. His merging of military march and swing session in “Good King Wenceslas” is all his own (and remarkably fun), and his casting of the orchestra on “The Twelve Days of Christmas” as essentially the world’s most elaborate Salvation Army band is, like so much of the Kenton book, both visionary and weirdly appropriate.

Check the price of A Merry Christmas! on Amazon!

Read Colin Fleming on the greatest jazz Christmas performance of all time.

Originally Published

Michael J. West

Michael J. West is a jazz journalist in Washington, D.C. In addition to his work on the national and international jazz scenes, he has been covering D.C.’s local jazz community since 2009. He is also a freelance writer, editor, and proofreader, and as such spends most days either hunkered down at a screen or inside his very big headphones. He lives in Washington with his wife and two children.