JazzTimes 10: Classic Jazz Christmas Albums

Recordings that always make for a cool Yule

Vince Guaraldi Trio: A Charlie Brown Christmas
  1. Jimmy Smith: Christmas Cookin’ (Verve, 1964; originally released as Christmas ’64)

Jimmy Smith’s Verve albums frequently placed him in front of highly mannered, sometimes melodramatic brass ensemble arrangements. Strange as the combination is, it works wonders here, with Smith’s organ providing high-octane, groovin’ release to the over-the-top horn tension of “God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen,” “We Three Kings,” and three others. On the other hand, a second version of “God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen” (along with “Jingle Bells” and “Santa Claus Is Comin’ to Town”) lets Smith use his core trio, guitarist Quentin Warren and drummer Billy Hart, who ride with him on a mellow soul trip.

Check the price of Christmas Cookin’  on Amazon!

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.