JazzTimes 10: Classic Jazz Christmas Albums

Recordings that always make for a cool Yule

Vince Guaraldi Trio: A Charlie Brown Christmas
  1. Ramsey Lewis Trio: Sound of Christmas (Argo, 1961)

In 1961, Chicago’s Ramsey Lewis Trio (a collective group despite its taking the pianist’s name) had started to transition from its cool-jazz roots to a band that embraced the new soul-jazz sound. That turn naturally lent itself to the yuletide R&B staple “Merry Christmas Baby,” but also to a clanging version of “Winter Wonderland” and a “Here Comes Santa Claus” that was boogaloo before it had a name. Even loading the arrangement down with strings and church bells can’t chase the blues out of the trio’s “God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen.”

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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.