It started in college. I would come home for the holidays, and be subjected to my mother’s catalog of the worst Christmas music ever. Name an artist whose Christmas album would be worse than water-boarding and my mom owned it. Celine Dion? Check. Manheim Steamrollers? Every one. Kenny G? Of course!
It became my mission to find Christmas music that I found tolerable, and my Mom’s December birthday became the perfect excuse for adding them to her collection prior to my arrival home. Many of the great Christmas swing songs have found their way into regular play on the radio stations and in malls by now. Ever since Macy’s rescued Kay Starr’s “Man with the Bag” from obscurity in 2006, advertisers have been looking for the next great song. Likewise, every year, I scour around for enjoyable and danceable holiday music. Here are some of this year’s best finds along with a few lesser-known favorites.
- Charles Bertini — “We Need a Little Christmas,” Fresh Batch – Jazz Treats for the Holidays Vol. 2 (227 bpm)
- Jimmy Butler — “Trim Your Tree,” Savoy Jazz Christmas Blues (154 bpm)
- Remi Ramaget Piano Trio — “Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer,” A Jazz Lounge Piano Christmas (170 bpm)
- Dave Barnes — “Very Merry Christmas,” Very Merry Christmas (124 bpm)
- Ray McKinley & His Orchestra — “Little Jack Frost Get Lost,” Everybody’s Swingin’ This Christmas (151 bpm)
- Bette Midler — “Cool Yule,” Cool Yule (157 bpm)
- Mandisa — “Joy to the World,” Christmas Joy – EP (130 bpm)
- Dixie Jazz Players — “Ding Dong Merrily on High,” Dixieland Christmas (182 bpm)