NEW YORK—With the Christmas and New Year’s holidays almost upon us, we here at VMail Weekend decided to take a more traditional approach to the music of the season. A few weeks ago, we presented an offbeat take on some obscure holiday tunes. For today’s read, we decided to go back to some traditional music roots. To get into the “Swing” of things, we invite you to take a listen to these jazzy renditions in the hopes you’ll find the spirit of the season before Saint Nick makes his appearance.
Frank Sinatra’s “Let It Snow” first appeared on his 1948 album titled “Christmas Songs by Sinatra.” For many of us in the Northeast, we don’t always want the weather to “Let It Snow” but for those in the warmer climates of the country, fantasies of snow and cold weather come alive in this holiday favorite by Ol’ Blue Eyes, a real king of Swing, even at Christmastime.
Ella Fitzgerald’s “Ella Wishes You a Swinging Christmas” was released in 1960 and features a bouncy, Ella-like rendition of “Jingle Bells” as well as “Santa Claus Is Coming to Town” and “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas.” Fitzgerald’s indispensable backup singers are like another instrument on this holiday album. Her pensive, “What Are You Doing New Year’s Eve” is vintage Ella, who is also known as the First Lady of Jazz.
A more contemporary jazz contributor, Michael Bublé, recently released his “Christmas” (Deluxe Special Edition) album containing a favorite from the 1950s, “Blue Christmas” made famous by Elvis Presley. Bublé’s rendition offers his own take on the song, with horns reminiscent of the French Quarter in New Orleans. Bublé is certainly a torch singer for today as evidenced by his interpretation of the classic, “I’ll be Home for Christmas,” which makes one wonder is it Bublé or Sinatra???
While some people sing with their voice, trumpeter Chris Botti says it all worth his horn. Currently “in residence” at NYC’s Blue Note in Greenwich Village, Botti is marking his 13th year at the famous jazz club playing for an amazing 28 consecutive nights. The Grammy winner began his career as a jazz musician, but in recent years he has expanded his musical repertoire to include pop and rock, making Botti one of the top-selling instrumentalists ever—he’s sold more than 4 million CDs, according to his website. Last year, he described his residency saying, “It’s like a big party every night. It’s also given me a chance to stretch the band out. We do 56 shows in 28 days, and we always come out of this a much stronger unit all around.” Take a listen here to his Christmas Album starting with his rendition of The Christmas Song.