- 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.