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Kurt Elling: The Beautiful Day

Predictably, Kurt Elling’s first Christmas album is anything but predictable. The exquisite quintet session unites Elling with guitarist John McLean, pianist Stu Mindeman, bassist Clark Sommers and drummer Kendrick Scott. Intermingling the secular and sacred, they reimagine a couple of holiday standards-a funkified “Little Drummer Boy,” and Claude Thornhill’s “Snowfall” blended with John Hollenbeck’s enchanting “The Snow Is Deep on the Ground”-but reserve the lion’s share of the disc for less-familiar selections.

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